South Sudan’s referendum on unity or separation began this morning with massive voter turn-out in Juba Town. Likewise in Malakal, there were “very long queues and people having spent the whole night,” according to a witness there.
Polling stations in Hai Amarat, John Garang Mausoleum and elsewhere in Juba town had queues since the early morning hours. A voter at John Garang Mausoleum said he had been in the queue since 2:00 in the night. Another man who said he arrived at the Hai Amarat polling centre at 7:00 told Radio Referendum that he expected to cast his vote at 14:00.
SKIRMISHES IN ABYEI
In Abyei, the disputed border region whose own referendum on joining the North or South has been postponed, skirmishes were reported in the far north of the district. Police from the Southern government clashed with militia or herders from Kordofan.
Chief Administrator Deng Arop Kuol confirmed that some people were killed on the Dinka side, more than 25, in clashes at Makeir-Abior, Tajalay and Majak Majak. Different casualty figures were reported by Juac Agok, a prominent SPLM figure in the area. He said that police serving with the Abyei Administration lost one man Friday while three Misseriyas were killed. He said that wounded Misseriya fighters were taken to an hospital in Balila in western Kordofan.
Juac Agok added that fighting occurred in the same place on Saturday, and at Todach. Nine were killed “on our side,” he said. The southerners found 24 Missiriyas in the field, some wearing uniforms of the police or the Sudan Armed Forces. He elaborated, however, that SPLM sources on the Misseriya side report 40 to 60 were killed. Another clash occurred this morning at Makuer-Abior, but there are no details yet.
The clashes were confirmed by a Misseriya spokesman to Al Jazeera, who said that Southern policemen opened fire on Misseriya herdsman. The clashes reportedly began Friday and continued Saturday. Likewise, senior Misseriya official Mohamed Omer al-Ansary told Reuters that his men had been attacked first by southern soldiers.
Photo: A man in displays his registration card while waiting in the queue at Hai Amarat polling centre.