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'Outcome Darfur referendum fait accompli': Sudanese lawyer

March 14 - 2016 OMDURMAN
A poster for the Darfur referendum in a registration centre at Abu Shouk camp for the displaced near El Fasher, capital of North Darfur (Mohamed Nureldin Abdallah/Reuters)
A poster for the Darfur referendum in a registration centre at Abu Shouk camp for the displaced near El Fasher, capital of North Darfur (Mohamed Nureldin Abdallah/Reuters)

The outcomes of the Darfur referendum on the administrative status of the war-torn western region are already known, says lawyer Mohamed Hala.

In the referendum, to be held between 11 and 13 April, people currently residing in Darfur will be able to determine whether the region will continue as five states or return to one administrative unit.

The referendum is stipulated in the Doha Document for Peace in Darfur (DDPD) that was signed in July 2011 by the Sudanese government and the Liberation and Justice Movement, a coalition of 19 breakaway factions of the Darfur rebel movements formed the year before.

Darfuris living in the camps for the displaced, Sudanese opposition parties, and civil society activists earlier expressed their grave concerns about holding the referendum in the current circumstances.

“It is impossible to manage Darfur again as one large province, regardless of the administrative constructions that can be adopted,” Darfuri lawyer and activist Mohamed Hala said in an interview, broadcast today in Radio Dabanga's Milafaat Sudania programme.

“Even if it were possible, it will not happen. The Sudanese government has worked hard on the fragmentation of the region, and will not consent to a return of its unity.”

Hala expressed his concern about Khartoum's insistence on linking the referendum with the Abuja (2006) and Doha (2011) peace agreements between the Sudanese government and a number of Darfur rebel groups. “By adhering to peace accords of years ago, the government blocks any possibility to reach a new political solution for Darfur related to the region as one body, constitutionally and legally.”

'Rigging'

The lawyer accused Khartoum of rigging the referendum registration figures as well.

“This means that even the Jebel Marra displaced hiding in caves up in the mountain have managed to register for the referendum.”

About 1,400 registration and polling centres have been established in all 63 Darfur localities. The voters are able to register between 8 February and 20 March.

In late February, the head of the Referendum Commission in Khartoum announced that the number of registered people reached 3.5 million out of the more than 4.5 million eligible voters in the region.

“This is in itself enough reason to cancel the referendum, because this number is equal to half the population of Darfur, according to the results of the latest census,” Hala stated. “This is impossible as it means that even the Jebel Marra displaced hiding in caves up in the mountain have managed to register for the referendum.”

The population of Darfur was estimated at about 7.5 million in the last census conducted in Sudan in 2008.


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