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Voter registration to begin in November for South Sudan referendum

By Lillian Leposo, For CNN
Pro-independence supporters in the Southern Sudanese capital Juba - voting is scheduled for January 9, 2011.
Pro-independence supporters in the Southern Sudanese capital Juba - voting is scheduled for January 9, 2011.
STORY HIGHLIGHTS
  • Voter registration on the independence referendum begins in November
  • The Southern Sudanese diaspora will also be allowed to vote
  • The referendum on the disputed Abeyi region will also take place in January

(CNN) -- Residents of Southern Sudan will begin registering November 14 for an historic referendum that will decide whether the region remains part of Sudan or breaks off to form a new nation.

The registration -- which will run for 30 days -- was postponed once before, because registration materials were not ready. Voting is scheduled for January 9, leaving little room for other delays.

"We are worried; the time remaining is short and many things are not in place yet," said Hamilton Lugor, the deputy liaison officer for the government of Southern Sudan in Kenya.

"But what we will not allow is the referendum to be delayed even for one minute," he added.

People from Southern Sudan who live outside of the country will also have an opportunity to vote in the referendum in selected countries in Africa and the West.

Video: Clooney fears war in Sudan
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Another referendum will take place on the same day as that voting: that of Abyei, a disputed oil-rich border region between the North and the South which also wants to govern itself. Talks are being held in Ethiopia with the goal of breaking a stalemate between the two sides in regard to guidelines that will govern Abyei's referendum.

The North insists that the Missiriya, a nomadic Arabic tribe, are eligible to vote in the Abyei referendum, but the South says only the permanently based Dinka tribe should have a right to vote.

Recent media reports say that the Missiriya tribe has warned of war if its members are barred from voting.

In a recent United Nations Special Summit on Sudan, the international community -- including U.S. President Barack Obama and U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki moon -- reiterated its commitment to peace in Sudan and support for the upcoming referendums.

More than 2 million people were killed in fighting between the North and South from 1983 to 2005, when a peace deal was finally brokered. That deal called for the referendum on independence for Southern Sudan.

 
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