23 November 2009
|Vast areas in Southern Sudan are difficult to access which has led to delays in voter registration for the national elections. (Angelika Mendes/JRS)|
|Experts believe that if the elections lack credibility, it will be difficult for the Comprehensive Peace Agreement to survive.|
According to the Commission, voter registration will now continue until 7 December instead of 30 November, and the election has been deferred to 11 April instead of 5 April 2010.
The decision came amid growing concern that voter registration has been bogged down by various challenges. Experts believe that if the elections lack credibility, it will be difficult for the Comprehensive Peace Agreement to survive.
NGOs working on the ground have also recently expressed concern regarding the political situation in the country, in view of outbreaks of violence cutting across many states in the autonomous region of Southern Sudan. Some NGOs believe that arms are being smuggled into the region, and fear rebel groups such as the Lord’s Resistance Army could destabilise much of the southwest, especially around Equatoria Province.
Growing concern in Southern Sudan in relation to the low level of voter registration recently led the Catholic Archbishop of Juba, Paulino Lukudu Loro, quoted in a local newspaper, to describe not registering to vote as a sin.
However, NGOs feel communities in much of the countryside have a limited understanding of the electoral process and what the options are and, therefore, are fearful and hesitant about registering for anything.
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