Source: unic.org

The United Nations is set to start distributing voter registration materials for next year's referendum on the self-determination of southern Sudan, the head of the UN office supporting the process said today.

Denis Kadima, the Director of UN Integrated Referendum and Electoral Division (UNIRED), told a news conference in the Sudanese capital, Khartoum, that the materials – estimated at about 120 tons – will include training manuals, registration booklets, kits and forms, as well as voter education pamphlets.

“It will be an important logistical operation that will require coordination both by national and international partners,' said Mr. Kadima, stressing that UNIRED's role was to provide technical and logistical support to a process managed by the Southern Sudan Referendum Commission.

The UN will also assist in the printing of ballot papers, he said.

Inhabitants of the south will vote on 9 January next year on whether to secede from Sudan or remain united with the rest of the country. On the same day, residents of Abyei, located in the centre of the country, will vote separately on whether to retain Abyei's special administrative status in the north or become part of Bahr el-Ghazal state in the south.

Mr. Kadima, whose office is part of the UN Mission in Sudan (UNMIS), said donor funds will be used to support the procurement of the referendum material through a fund managed by the UN Development Programme (UNDP).

“We will be assisting the referendum authorities in every phase of the process, starting from conceptualization of operations, the planning of procurement and distribution of materials, to the voter registration exercise… and finally polling, counting, tabulation and announcement of the results,” Mr. Kadima said.

He said UNIRED will provide the same support to the Abyei vote once the referendum commission for the area has been established.

UNIRED will also set up more than 70 referendum support bases in remote areas of southern Sudan and open offices in the north to provide technical assistance to national officials there, Mr. Kadima said.

The referenda will be the final phase in the implementation of the 2005 Comprehensive Peace Agreement (CPA), which ended a two-decade north-south civil war in Sudan.