Five months away from southern Sudan referendum!


Miyar de Nyok
(Calgary AB) - 
The Comprehensive Peace Agreement (CPA) is five months away to its full implementation. The CPA’s full implementation failures or successes will be determined either by confirming the unity of the Sudan or seceding of South Sudan as independent state. The preparatory processes for referendum exercises have taken tough routes since 2005. There are impediments that have not been resolved. These impediments include 20% of the undemarcated borders, post-referendum arrangements and wealth sharing just to mention a few.


Due to the difficulties being experienced by both parties, the Government of Canada recently invited the Sudan People Liberation Movement (SPLM) and National Congress party (NCP) delegations to study Quebec Referendum (QR). Both SPLM and NCP are the CPA partners charged with the responsibility of implementing the plebiscite outcomes. The delegation committees were here in Canada to do comparative studies on the Quebec referendum in regard to upcoming referendum in January 2011. The referendum outcomes will be the litmus test for the integrity and continuity of social and democratic systems either in a united Sudan or independent South Sudan.

Although the responsibility of accepting the referendum outcomes will be for the SPLM and NCP to compromise, the South Sudanese citizens have the right to determine their fate whether to remain in the current Sudan or not. The Southern Sudanese in Canada were previously puzzled by the SPLM refusal to allow them to participate in the referendum exercises. However, they are now given constitutional rights in the referendum bill to participate in the plebiscite exercises. The SPLM fears the forging of the referendum outcomes and the facts that many Southern Sudanese living in diasporas don’t possess Sudanese identification documents, makes it very difficult to attain concrete and fair results. This fact remains a dilemma that needs caution and scrutiny by South Sudanese living in diasporas whether to participate or not.

In Calgary, Alberta, the South Sudanese Canadians were briefed on the referendum by the SPLM delegation. The delegation members explained the priorities for the Government of South Sudan 2010 as follows:

1) referendum

2) Governance

3) Security

4) Food Security

5) Basic social services.

As they discussed all the issues, they mentioned that SPLM priority is referendum.

The delegation members clearly stipulated that lack of identification documents will not be an obstacle preventing anyone to participate in the referendum. They mentioned that people who don’t have Sudanese identification documents will be assisted to vote in the referendum exercises by United Nations High Commissioners for Refugees (UNCHR), International Organizations for Immigration (IOM) and the South Sudanese community can also confirm an individual to vote if they are sure that s/he is a Southerner. In addition, the delegation members mentioned that voting centres will be assigned depending on the number of registered members in a particular city. This assignment and requirement is that a city must register 20,000 members; otherwise Ottawa will be the only designated centre for anyone who has registered to vote -a task that is squarely lying on the Southern Sudanese community in Canada.

On the other hand, the delegation members put a caveat that it is the sole responsibility of an individual to decide whether s/he will be registered for referendum exercises. This caveat reflects the fear SPLM is having toward voting outside of Southern Sudan regions. I think SPLM has a point because the referendum votes may be altered in favour of unity by NCP since NCP is now campaigning for united state. Thus, if there is going to be failure of achieving 61% for secession; this failure may result from the manipulated votes outside of Southern Sudan regions.

Therefore, it would be advisable for an individual to think twice before registering for the referendum exercises. Furthermore, it will be a mistake in our history to fail ourselves at the last stage toward achieving the right for self-determination as independent state of South Sudan. I am a diasporan myself and I trust my judgement if I decide to register later, it is going to be my commitment, having in mind that I do not want to fail our people who have suffered since 1955.

The South Sudanese in diasporas have to be very careful on the referendum exercises albeit the constitutional rights on referendum bill that have allowed them to participate. We must not allow the NCP opportunists to derail away our 61% for separation. Moreover, I am just warning and not suggesting that we should not vote in the referendum, it is our dutiful rights to decide collectively as citizens who have been disenfranchised and marginalized in the hostage of injustice and inequities.

More importantly, it is imperative not to fail self-determination toward making it a separation. When we all make that historic vote for secession, it is going to be our solemn duty and we owe it to our martyrs and living generations. The fruition of self-determination to secession will tailor hems for the destiny and prosperity of Southern Sudanese and marginalized regions.


  • The diasporas have to thoroughly do registration screening by counties and states

  • The chief returning officers must be trusted Southern Sudanese

  • The Southern Sudan must work hand in hand with Canadian government to assist in conducting fair plebiscite exercises

  • SPLM must also be careful with tactful means NCP has now employed

  • SPLM should be the one verifying the referendum votes tallying

  • SPLM advisory committees on referendum must continue assisting and guiding the diasporas during registration and voting

 Miyar De’Nyok is a graduate of the University of Waterloo. You can reach him at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.



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