Paces are stepping up in Sudan’s Darfur to conduct the region’s administrative status referendum as the polling process, slated for this April, is approaching after the completion of voter registration.

Local authorities in Darfur believe that the registration of around 76 percent of eligible voters was evidence that the process, which faces some objections, would be successful.

The Darfur Regional Authority (DRA) has reiterated that the referendum process was progressing according to the law upon which the Darfur Administrative Referendum Commission (DARC) was established.

“The registration process was conducted according to the law and without any objections. It was conducted according to the regulations and rules of the referendum commission,” Omer Hafez Alfa, head of DRA’s Economic Committee, told reporters.

He said the great turnout by the citizens during the registration indicates success of the referendum process and the citizens’ conviction that it is a constitutional right.

He urged the citizens to vote and not to respond to calls for boycott.

According to the DARC, the number of the registered voters in Darfur’s five states amounted to 3,583,105 out of the total 4,588,300 eligible voters.

The Darfur referendum now entered the phase of voter register publication, complaints and appeals to be followed by the polling phase, scheduled for April 11 to 13.

It is widely believed that the administrative referendum would contribute to the stability of the region which has been restive since 2003.

“We are convinced that the Darfur administrative referendum is likely to enhance stability in the region,” Hamid Abbaker, a native local official in West Darfur State, told Xinhua.

“This referendum is a constitutional right according to the Doha Document for Peace in Darfur (DDPD) and it will end the controversy about the administrative status of the region,” he noted.

According to the DDPD, the referendum will be held for either to merge the five Darfur states into one region or keep the current administrative status.

“We cannot return to the system of one region. It will be like a political apostasy,” Al-Saddiq Adam Abbaker, another local official in West Darfur, told Xinhua.

“We do not expect the option of one region to receive support from voters. There is persuasion that the five states option will win large support,” he noted.

However, the referendum is rejected by armed groups and representatives of the internally displaced persons (IDPs) and refugees affected by the conflict there.

Major Darfur rebel movements also reject the referendum unless Khartoum fulfills other demands including reaching a political agreement with the region’s armed groups and paying compensations for the people affected by the conflict.

The Sudanese government stresses that the referendum is a constitutional right that must be implemented according to Abuja peace deal which Khartoum signed with the Sudan Liberation Movement (SLM)/ Minni Minnawi faction in 2006.

The DDPD, signed between the government and the Liberation and Justice Movement (LJM) in 2011, stipulates conduction of a referendum in Darfur and that its result is to be included in the country’s permanent constitution.

According to the deal, if the Darfur people vote for merging the states into one region, the Transitional Darfur Regional Authority (TDRA) shall form a constitutional committee to determine the powers of Darfur’s regional government.

However, if the Darfur people vote against the option of one region, the agreement stipulates that the current administrative status of five states shall remain and the TDRA shall be dissolved. Enditem

Source: Xinhua


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