Although the historic referendum in southern Sudan deals specifically with whether the region should become independent from Khartoum, in Uganda it is as if southern Sudanese are voting in a local national election.
The 10 polling stations where southern Sudanese living in Uganda vote
from are full of activity and excitement, as hundreds turn up to vote.
Voting began January 9, with southern Sudanese turning up in large numbers to vote in a landmark referendum on independence from the north. They sing and chant in their local languages as they wait to cast votes.
So far, no incidents have been reported and all is going well.
As southern Sudan representative of the referendum commission, Michael Saki, explains, “All is well. People came in big numbers. They kept discipline by lining up to cast their votes.”
According to one of the referendum officials, James Laga, over 10,000 southern Sudanese have so far voted in an exercise supposed to last for one week.
Mr. Laga said, “The turnout is encouraging. So far, over 10,000 people have voted. We expect most of them to vote in four days.”
He said that reports from southern Sudan also indicate that the exercise is going smoothly.
One of the southern Sudanese voters said today, after casting his vote at Namboole voting centre in the suburb of Kampala, “This is what we have been waiting for since 2005.
“At last we are voting for our independence. I am confident that we will win our independence through this referendum.”
The referendum is expected to result in southern Sudan becoming independent.
The poll was agreed as part of the 2005 Comprehensive Peace Agreement, which ended the two-decade north-south civil war.