The United States continues to support a peaceful, on-time referendum for Southern Sudan that reflects the will of the people. This graphic outlines the steps that must be taken to achieve an on-time referendum, and depicts the progress that has been made thus far. The United States is working closely with the parties to the Comprehensive Peace Agreement, the Southern Sudan Referendum Commission, and international partners to achieve successful completion of all of these steps.
In the past week, progress was made on several steps that are critical to the start of voter registration. The Southern Sudan Referendum Commission (SSRC) and Southern Sudan Referendum Bureau (SSRB) launched a formal media campaign for the referendum on November 7 and released a fact sheet clarifying eligibility criteria. Civic and voter education efforts across the country are now underway. The SSRC also approved the number and locality of registration centers across Sudan and in the eight countries hosting out-of-country registration. Registration materials are being transported to the county level in the South and to the states in the North. The hiring and training of registration staff continues. International observers from the Carter Center and European Union have arrived in the country.
However, a number of these steps should be completed in the coming days to keep the referendum on schedule, including the start of voter registration on November 15. The SSRC should complete the identification and establishment of all registration centers and work with the relevant governments to finalize security plans for registration and voting. The SSRB in the South and the SSRC in the North should complete the hiring, training, and deployment of approximately 11,000 referendum workers. All voter registration materials should be transferred from the state- and county-level to the registration centers. The SSRC should ensure the efficient, timely accreditation of domestic and international observers. Meanwhile, the SSRC should finalize the design for the referendum ballot this month and place the order for voting materials so that they arrive and can be distributed to referendum centers in time for polling to begin on January 9.
Completing these steps will require adequate funding. The SSRC-approved budget for the referendum totals roughly US $370 million, of which the Government of National Unity (GoNU) in Khartoum and Government of Southern Sudan (GoSS) in Juba are expected to provide about US $179 million. Both the GoNU and GoSS have begun incrementally disbursing funds, but there remains a significant gap. It is critical that both governments provide the requisite funding to keep preparations moving forward. International donors, including the United States, UNMIS and the UNDP Referendum Basket Fund are providing substantial support through in-kind logistical and material assistance.
This graphic has been and will continue to be updated weekly to track the progress being made on these steps toward Southern Sudan’s referendum and ultimately toward a more peaceful and stable Sudan.