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Africa

Diaspora boycotting referendum vote in Uganda and Kenya

media Women celebrating after casting their ballot in Peiti, a village northwest … Reuters

As long queues formed on the third day of voting in south Sudan’s referendum on independence many of the south Sudanese diaspora in Kenya and Uganda have boycotted the polls. Instead they have gone directly to the nearest southern Sudanese towns to register and cast their vote.

“They should not trust any other person to play a big role, other than them themselves. And that’s why they decided to go and let their vote be in safe hands, in southern Sudan,” Abraham Majur Laam, the secretary of the Referendum Committee of the Sudanese Community in Uganda, told RFI.

He says southern Sudanese do not trust the impartiality of the United Nations International Organisation for Migration (IOM), which is in charge of organising the referendum abroad, as it “may have been infiltrated by the enemies of the people of southern Sudan”.

Around 60,000 people from the diaspora are expected to vote in the referendum on independence in the United States, Canada, Britain, Australia, Egypt, Ethiopia, Kenya and Uganda.

Q&A - Abraham Majur Laam, Referendum Committee of the Sudanese Community in Uganda 11/01/2011 - by Billie O'Kadameri Listen

“We have suffered so much and we have to trust ourselves, not any other set party which is not part of our struggle,” says Laam. “I feel happy that there is a provision by which I will determine my fate and my vote will automatically go for separation,” he adds.

Out of Country Registration took place between 15 November and 8 December 2010. South Sudanese can vote in one of 42 polling stations abroad from 9 January till 15 January 2011.

“There were fears of election rigging and this is simply because there was misinformation that has gone out into the southern Sudanese community in Uganda,” Michael Saki, a representative of the Southern Sudan Referendum Commission in Uganda, told RFI from Kampala.

“Our people did not know that we have signed a memorandum of understanding with the IOM. We just actually granted them the opportunity to carry out this process,” says Saki. “We have tried our best to sensitise our people and that’s why at the end of day we were able to register 13,291 people in Uganda,” he adds.

Nearly 20 per cent of the 3.93 million registered voters cast their ballot on Sunday, the first day of voting, according to the South Sudan Referendum Commission.

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