Sudan: UN embarks on largest-ever delivery of voter registration materials

31 October 2009 – The United Nations Mission in Sudan (UNMIS) and the UN Development Programme (UNDP) are kicking off the largest-ever delivery of materials in the African nation ahead of tomorrow’s voter registration exercise.

Nearly 120,000 kilogrammes of materials – including registration kits, forms and training supplies – will be sent to locations identified by the National Elections Commission (NEC).

UNDP is funding the cost of transporting the supplies to Sudan’s 25 state capitals, while UNMIS is assisting in sending materials and NEC officers to train staff on the rules and procedures of voter registration in dozens of inaccessible and remote locations in Southern Sudan and Southern Kordofan.

For its part, the joint African Union-UN peacekeeping force in Darfur will deliver materials to 10 isolated areas in Northern and Western Darfur.

“We’re hopeful that this logistical assistance to NEC will enable the Commission to establish registration centers that enable more people to register and later to vote,” said Ray Kennedy, Chief Electoral Affairs Officer with UNMIS. “This will bring the country one step closer to a large-scale democratic polling exercise in 2010.”

NEC requested UNMIS – which is mandated to provide technical assistance and support for elections – to assist with logistics and operational planning, electoral materials, training and capacity building of staff in support of the upcoming general elections.

Next year’s multi-party polls are a key milestone in the 2005 Comprehensive Peace Agreement, the pact which ended 20 years of fighting between the Sudanese People’s Liberation Army (SPLA) separatists in the south and the national Government in the north.

In his most recent report on UNMIS, Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon called on the parties to the CPA to enhance their partnership in ensuring that the elections are held.

“The Agreement must be implemented in spirit as well as the letter if the immense work undertaken is to be sustainable,” he stressed, calling on the sides to enhance their cooperation.

Next year’s elections must be seen as part of a larger process of democratic transformation, requiring a long-term commitment by all parties, the Secretary-General underscored, adding that it is vital that the polls are credible in the eyes of the Sudanese people.

“Coming to an agreement on how to proceed with elections will also allow the parties to give the requisite attention to preparations for the referendums in 2011,” the report said.

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