Southern Sudan region threatens poll boycott

Southern Sudanese soldiers(photo by Peter Martell/IRIN): The region's government has threatened to boycott next year's presidential elections over claims of rigging by the North

Nairobi--The government of South Sudan has threatened to boycott next year's presidential elections over rigging claims by the North.

The Head of Mission at the GoSS liaison office in Nairobi John Duku also sent a warning to the North that any attempt to interfere with the referendum in 2011 will be tantamount to declaring war on the South.

Mr Duku said the South was unimpressed with the way the North was conducting the voter registration exercise that started November 1 for 30 days.

The latest standoff between the North and South follows the release of names of ten countries by the National Elections Commission of Sudan where Sudanese in Diaspora can register as voters and also participate in the presidential election scheduled for April next year.

The list to all the Sudan missions abroad includes Kuwait, United Arab Emirates, Kingdom of Saudi Arabia, Egypt, Qatar, Sultanate of Oman, Bahrain, the UK, Belgium (for all Western Europe) and USA.

The South is questioning what it deems deliberate exclusion of the nine states that border Sudan especially Kenya, Ethiopia, Uganda, Congo and the Democratic Republic of Congo where Mr Duku stressed hosts many South Sudanese refugees.

"We were shocked when we saw the list and the question we are asking is why did NEC exclude the five countries. Where are the sub-Saharan African states?" asked Mr Duku.

He called on the North to declare if the elections were only for the majority Arab North or the Southerners were going to take part too.

"If the elections are for the North alone then we have no problem but if the South is going to take part then these countries (Kenya, Ethiopia, Uganda, Congo-Brazzaville and the Democratic Republic of Congo) must be included."

He observed that the action by NEC was a ploy by SPLM's northern partner National Congress Party of President Omar Al Bashir to rig the elections by isolating the South.

The threats deal a body blow to the fragile government of unity which has been battling to remain united since the signing of the Comprehensive Peace Agreement on January 9, 2005.

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