Sudan referendum has gone “remarkably well” says UN official

The referendum in southern Sudan has gone remarkably well, according to a top UN official. The voting is taking place following the 1995 peace agreement which brought an end to decades of war between the north and south in which roughly two million people have died. Former Tanzanian President Benjamin Mkapa is Chairman of the UN Secretary-General’s panel for the referendum in Sudan and spoke to Reem Abaza about the voting and what it means:

Duration: 3’14″

Mkapa: The process has gone remarkably well. Attendance has been high. Security has been assured but unobtrusive. Ballot papers have been adequate. And the results should begin coming in early next week.

Abaza: What were your main methods to evaluate the process?

Mkapa: Well, first of course we had to satisfy ourselves that the registration process was free and fair, that those who were eligible were free to register – there were no impediments in their way – and that those who were registering were doing so fairly without intimidation. We had to see for ourselves that the Commission was well-equipped and also that there would be enough ballot papers for al the polling centers. We had to satisfy ourselves that the election officials were well trained. And on both of these scores, I have to take my hat off to the United Nations elections assistance department because UNAMID had done a wonderful job. And so after that, with the start of the polls, we had to see whether they started on time, whether advertisements or messages concerning where and up to what time voters could cast their vote were sufficiently spread to enable most voters to come forward, whether the polling stations opened on time, the officials were in place, documents were there, to satisfy ourselves whether the polling booths were sufficiently situated to give privacy to the voter. So one the basis of all those considerations, we are satisfied that the process has gone very well.

Abaza: What will your role be in the next phase?

Mkapa: Well in the next phase will be first to receive the results as they are added up by the polling centers, who will then obviously have to compare wit the registered voters to see how they pair nicely or not and then to see whether the transmissions are faithfully undertaken and that there are no shenanigans in between polling centers and the county, between the county and the state and between the state and the Commission.

Abaza: Are you concerned of what might happen after announcing the results?

Mkapa: Not really because the leaders of both parties to the Comprehensive Peace Agreement have said time and again that they will respect the outcome. And they have asked their people to accep outcome, whatever it may be.

Abazza: I have to ask about Abiye. How do you see the real solution for this issue?

Mkapa: Well as you know, we have no direct responsibility for the solution. We hope that the results of this referendum will give momentum to that process of negotiations about how to determine the future of Abye.

Filed under Today's Features.
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