South Sudan vote clears hurdle as ballot forms arrive

Millions of ballot papers were delivered to South Sudan on Wednesday, removing one uncertainty ahead of a referendum on southern independence scheduled for next month.

The January 9 referendum has been fraught with delays and logistical problems, and organisers had feared snowy weather that has snarled air traffic in Britain might stop English printers from delivering the forms on time.

People from the oil-producing but underdeveloped south are widely expected to choose independence in the vote.

The plane carrying more than 7,3-million ballot forms landed in the airport in the southern capital, Juba, and was surrounded by security forces, UN officials and a Reuters witness said.

“You cannot control winter, but this is what we believed would happen and it has. The ballots will be produced on time,” said Anne Itto, a senior official with South Sudan’s ruling party, the Sudan People’s Liberation Movement.


“All other complaints are minor now, the main thing is the ballots are here and the referendum can go ahead.”

Civil war
The referendum was promised in a 2005 peace deal that ended decades of north-south civil war and analysts have warned disagreements over the vote could reignite conflict.

The north’s dominant National Congress Party is backing unity, but denies accusations from southern leaders it just wants to keep control of southern oil.

UN referendum monitors on Wednesday praised the commission but said they still faced a number of challenges, including funding shortages and lawsuits.

“[The organisers] have faced financial and logistical hurdles and yet voter registration was largely peaceful, orderly and transparent … Based on our observations so far, we believe that a credible referendum can take place,” said former Tanzanian president Benjamin Mkapa, heading the panel.

A number of civic groups in the north have launched legal challenges with the country’s Constitutional Court, calling for the organising commission to be dissolved and voter registration to be re-run. — Reuters

Subscribe to the M&G

These are unprecedented times, and the role of media to tell and record the story of South Africa as it develops is more important than ever.

The Mail & Guardian is a proud news publisher with roots stretching back 35 years, and we’ve survived right from day one thanks to the support of readers who value fiercely independent journalism that is beholden to no-one. To help us continue for another 35 future years with the same proud values, please consider taking out a subscription.

Related stories

Advertising

Subscribers only

Vodacom swindled out of more than R24m worth of Apple...

A former employee allegedly ran an intricate scam to steal 8700 phones from the cellular giant

Come what may, the UIF will pay

The fund – the main safety net for unemployed workers – will run at an almost R20-billion deficit

More top stories

We will find resources to ensure the Zondo commission completes...

Justice Minister Ronald Lamola says his department will ensure the state capture commission is afforded the financial resources to complete its work, despite the treasury’s uncertainty

Covid-19 variant may protect people against reinfection and other variants,...

The 501Y.V2 strain produces strong antibodies, but it’s not known how long immunity lasts, so being vaccinated remains essential

Tobacco industry calls Dlamini-Zuma’s bid to appeal ban a...

The minister could spend the state’s money on fighting Covid-19 and cigarette cartels, tobacco manufacturers argue

Zondo commission: Glencore sold Optimum to portray me as a...

Former Eskom chief executive paints himself as the victim of a plot at the hands of President Cyril Ramaphosa’s former business associates
Advertising

press releases

Loading latest Press Releases…