Southern Sudan disputes census: Presidential elections postponed

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Rebels from southern Sudan have disputed census results in the country claiming that they make up one-third of Sudan’s population, but census results suggest that they constitute a much smaller proportion. As a result of the dispute, Sudan’s presidential election has been postponed to April next year.

The elections will be Sudan’s first democratic election in more than twenty years.

The Sudanese electoral commission insists that the postponement is because the census result was turned in late. “The electoral process depends on the results of the census, but those results were not received until mid-May, a month and a half later than expected,” a statement from the electoral commission read.

The census was conducted to define how wealth and political power will be apportioned between the northern and southern regions. However, the problems faced included disagreements between the north and south over certain requirements under the Naivasha Agreement, the Darfur conflict, logistical challenges, and funding difficulties, experts have said.

In 2005, a peace deal to end years of war in the south was signed and elections were scheduled to be held this year (2009). The peace deal ended a 21-year civil war between the north and the south, giving the south a semi-autonomous government and providing for a referendum on independence for the south by 2011.

Southern Sudan is known to produce over 80 per cent of all Sudanese oil, which contributes to a little over 70 per cent of the totality of Sudanese exports.

Though the two sides (North and South) agreed under a Comprehensive Peace Agreement to equally share oil resources from Southern Sudan, the lack of probity and accountability has led the Southern Sudan government to doubt the Arab-led Khartoum government, implying a strong possibility of the North keeping a lion’s share of revenue from resources from the South.

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