Southern Sudan votes on second day of referendum

Salva Kiir

A second day of voting is taking place in Southern Sudan in a week-long referendum which will decide whether the south of the country becomes independent from the north. The referendum is part of a peace deal signed in 2005 which ended 20 years of civil war. Daniel Dickinson reports.

Duration: 2’12″

Among the first to mark his ballot on Sunday was Salva Kiir, President of Government of Southern Sudan.

President Kiir cast his vote at the Juba mausoleum honouring the late Southern Sudanese leader Dr John Garang.

SOUNDBITE (English) Salva Kirr, President of the Government of Southern Sudan:
“I believe those of Dr. John and all those who died with him are with us today and I must assure them that they have not died in vain.”

Hundreds of voters have been lining up outside polling centres in the region’s major cities. In Juba, this is what one woman had to say about the referendum.

“This is the moment that we were waiting for, we didn’t want to kill one another; we just wanted to have our say. But we were not given the chance to have our say because somebody somewhere he thinks that he is very powerful and he can not allow us to say something. So today is very important because we are saying it. Anybody can say it, but not everybody can carry a gun. So those people who carried guns for us, today they have brought us this chance for us to be here and to cast our vote.”

Voting is scheduled to end on the afternoon of Saturday, 15 January. President Kiir urged citizens to be patient while waiting to vote.

But some southerners seemed unfazed by the prospect of spending much of the day waiting in line. Like this man.

“We had poor education system, poor infrastructure and there was too much oppression, there was religious discrimination, there was a lot of things, but within this period of six years, you could see now, we have at least climbed the ladder up. You can see roads, you can see vehicles, you can see new infrastructure coming up, we can rule ourselves. This is just the beginning.”

Meanwhile, The Chairman of The UN Secretary-General’s referendum Panel Benjamin Mkapa, said turnout on the first day had been overwhelming.

At least 60 per cent of all voters who registered for the referendum must exercise their franchise to make the outcome legal and binding.

Filed under Today's Features.
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