UN delivers ballots for historic Southern Sudan referendum
Juba – Today at the Juba airport, the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) delivered ballots for more than 4 million voters to the Southern Sudan Referendum Bureau. The ballots will be used in the referendum on 9 January 2011, in which Southern citizens will choose whether to remain united with the North or to secede and form their own independent country.
Each ballot carries two pictures: an image of one hand, signifying independence, and an image of two hands that stands for unity. In addition to the procurement of ballots, UNDP has assisted the referendum process in the setting-up of 3000 polling stations and the registration of more than 3.5 million voters in Sudan and eight other countries.
“We are very pleased that UNDP has been able to deliver such a major component of the Referendum on schedule, especially given the compressed timeframe for delivery and logistical challenges,” said George Conway, Deputy Head of UNDP’s office in Southern Sudan.
UNDP’s programme in Southern Sudan supports the implementation of the 2005 Comprehensive Peace Agreement, which ended Sudan’s last civil war, and the organization of the referendum is the final major milestone of the agreement.
UNDP joined the UN Mission in Sudan to form the UN Integrated Referendum and Electoral Division, which is the conduit for their vital assistance to the referendum. Supporting the UN’s work on the referendum, UNDP has helped to establish and equip nearly 3,000 registration centers and train over 8,000 managers of polling stations, with the assistance of partners such as USAID and the International Foundation for Electoral Systems. In addition to providing furniture and equipment to centers in remote areas inaccessible by car, UNDP has assisted with the delivery of referendum kits to all polling stations in Southern Sudan.
UNDP has also supported the coordination of voter education campaigns and workshops, and the delivery to voter registration centers of kits needed for the registration process, which were air-lifted to capitals of the 10 states of Southern Sudan. As a result, more than 3.5 million voters were registered in south and north Sudan and Australia, Canada, Egypt, Ethiopia, Kenya, Uganda, United Kingdom and the United States of America.
The polling stations will be open for registered voters to cast their ballots from 9 to 15 January 2011.
To improve security during the vote, UNDP has assisted in the training of 20,000 police officers. Currently, more than 10,000 polling station officers are enrolled in training programmes on managing the referendum centers and conducting a transparent and efficient voting process.
UNDP has also helped to set up data centers where the votes will be counted, and will provide satellite telephones to monitor activities and provide advice to remote referendum stations, which lack other means of communication.
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