Discrepancies mar south Sudan independence vote


More than 100 percent of people registered in seven of the 76 counties in Sudan’s south voted in a referendum on whether to secede from the north, according to provisional results and documents seen by Reuters.

The discrepancies are small and unlikely to change the overall result which looks to be a landslide vote for secession. But if unresolved it could cast doubts on the process and leave it vulnerable to legal appeals.

The week-long vote which ended on January 15 was promised under a 2005 north-south peace deal which ended decades of civil war. International observers had said the process was credible with provisional results on the vote organising commission website showing almost 99 percent of voters opting for secession.

But in seven counties from the southern Central Equatoria, Jonglei, Upper Nile and Western Equatoria states, the number of people who voted according to the provisional results exceeded the number of voters registered, according to documents from the referendum organising commission seen by Reuters on Monday.

In Bor county in Jonglei state, 67,901 voters registered to vote and decide the future of the oil-producing south, but the results website showed 68,621 people cast their vote. In Pibor also in Jonglei, 83,841 voters registered but 84,307 voted.

The referendum commission played down the anomaly, saying it would in no way affect the outcome of the landslide referendum.
“It is just in a few centres this may have happened … I don’t think this is very serious,” deputy chairman of the commission Chan Reek Madut told Reuters.
“Maybe some people registered but were missed in the count at the close of registration and the report was sent too early. It is just a logistical error if it is an error,” he said.

The provisional and incomplete results showed 98.91 percent of voters wanted secession, according to the commission’s official website www.ssrc.sd, confirming earlier predictions.

Preliminary results could be released in a week, the commission said, but any appeals would mean the final result would be out on February 14.

Sudan’s north, which had wanted unity, has said it would recognise the referendum result but has also complained of fraud during the registration process.