Southern Sudan referendum starts as scheduled

14:02, January 09, 2011      

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Staff members wait at a referendum polling center in Khartoum, capital of Sudan, Jan. 9, 2011. Around four million southern Sudanese began to vote in the referendum on Sunday to decide whether the region should remain united with the north or secede to establish an independent state. (Xinhua/Zhang Chuanqi)

Voting process in the referendum on self-determination for south Sudan started here Sunday, where the southerners would vote to decide whether the region will remain united with north Sudan or secede to establish an independent state as stipulated by the Comprehensive Peace Agreement (CPA), which ended a two-decade north-south civil war.

The vote started at the polling centers in both south and north Sudan at 8:00 a.m. local time (5:00 a.m. GMT) and would last till 5:00 p.m. (14:00 GMT).

Salva Kiir Mayardit, First Vice President of Sudan and President of the Government of Southern Sudan, cast the first ballot at a polling station at the museum of John Garang, founder of the Sudan People's Liberation Movement.

He said that the northerners and foreigners in south Sudan will be protected.

U.S. Senator John Kerry was also present at the polling center. "I'm very excited. It's very important," he said.

The process will last for seven days to end on Jan. 15, 2011.

The total number of the registered eligible southern Sudanese voters amounted to 3,930,916, while 3,753,815 of them in south Sudan, 116,860 in north Sudan and 60,241 in eight overseas countries including Egypt, Ethiopia, Kenya, Uganda, Australia, the United States, Britain and Canada.

After the expected vote for independence of the south, Sudan would enter a six-month transition period when the north and south sides would negotiate on thorny issues including border demarcation, the status of the oil-rich Abyei region, as well as the division of national debts and oil revenue.

Source: Xinhua
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