Massive turnout overwhelms registration centers in Sudan’s N. Bahr el Ghazal
By Ngor Arol Garang
November 15, 2010 (KHARTOUM) – Authorities from the southern state of Northern Bahr el Ghazal on Monday said the high turnout for voter registration in Aweil East County has overwhelmed polling centers.
A resident of the remote south central Southern Sudan village of Nyal listens to news of the referendum as he waits in line to register his name with Referedum workers at a local school on November 15, 2010 (AFP)
Voter registration for the forthcoming self determination referendum for the people of south Sudan will last for 17 days.
Lucy Ayak, a leading official from South Sudan Referendum Commission, told Sudan Tribune from Majak Awar locality near Peth Boma, Aweil East County in Northern Bahr el Ghazal state, that the area has witnessed a high turnout on the first day of the registration process.
The “registration process started early and progressed well until closing hours today at five o’clock. There was high turnout from all registration centers we visited today,” said Ayak.
The official said the high turnout for registration, in most of the centers she visited, overwhelmed the staff.
“The turnout that I saw in most of the centers I visited today was quite big and so overwhelmed the manpower allocated to each of them. All the centers are experiencing a shortfall of manpower,” she said.
Ayak said they have 100 registration centers covering the county and each center is served by only three people.
“We were supposed to have five people in each center but there are only three people registering thousands of people now.”
“Five people were supposed to be in each center so that one of them becomes the chairperson of the registration processes in the center while two people do the registration and two others do the sealing”.
The senior referendum official in the area said that 20 proposed centers were not approved by the referendum commission.
“The commission approved only 100 registration centers from 120 centers in our initial proposal. These are not enough. More centers would help in covering the county in term of quick registration instead of holding thousands of people in one line waiting for registration. That was why we put 120 centers in our initial proposal but the commission approved only 100 which is not enough to cover the area,” she explained.
Ayak, however, said they are hoping to get volunteers for registration processes.
“If this continues then we have to rely on voluntary assistance from our people so that people who come for registration do not return without being registered because of being short on staff,” she said.
The official further added that some of the centers did not start today because they have not received the registration materials needed due to logistical challenges.
“Some of the centers in both low and high lands like Rum Aker, Dhiak, Makuac Kir, and Angot among others did not start today because they received their voting material late. Others did not receive due to logistical challenges on delivery routes because some of the areas are in places not accessible by vehicle because of water,” she said.
The registration exercise is part of the 2005 peace agreement signed by the National Congress Party and the former southern rebels, the Sudan Peoples’ Liberation Movement to end over two decades of civil war.
The peace deal allows the oil producing south the right to form a regional government and the right to hold a referendum in 2011 to decide whether it should remain part of Sudan or secede.
National Congress Party politicians have indicated that the north may not recognize the result if the referendum is not deemed credible.
Most of Sudan’s known oil reserves lie in the south and are currently split 50-50 between the two governments.
Post referendum arrangements including wealth sharing and border demarcation are yet to be agreed between the two parties.
Article source: http://www.sudantribune.com/spip.php?article36955