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Race against time: the countdown to the referenda in Southern Sudan and Abyei

1 October 2010

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Race against time: the countdown to the referenda in Southern Sudan and Abyei

This 2010 paper by Aly Verjee looks at the two upcoming referenda in Sudan as specified in the 2005 Comprehensive Peace Agreement. The two referenda are the most critical events in the contemporary history of Sudan. The key areas of dispute in both referenda are voter eligibility, voter registration procedures and border demarcation. In the case of the Abyei referendum there is also continued dispute over the appointment of the referendum commission. The first three of these areas present technical challenges that are exacerbated by the delays resulting from political disputes between the parties. Major technical challenges confront the referenda commissions while physical demarcation of the entire north-south boundary is not practible before the referenda. The referendum in Abyei faces additional obstables over boundaries and voters eligibility. The paper argues that, as the postponement of the Abyei referendum is undesirable may may be unavoidable, it would not solve the problem. The paper adds that a referendum without NCP participation would lack recognition, and that a higher standards than the 2010 elections was needed. The paper recognizes the value of the UN involvement.


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