I would like to take this opportunity to briefly analyze the impact of Southern Sudan’s Diaspora voter registration and their potential vote in the upcoming January 2011 Southern Sudan Self-determination referendum. I will attempt to focus on the 60% turnout of registered voters threshold required to validate the results of Southern Sudan self-determination referendum. In particular, I will look at the impact from a worse-case scenario; no single registered voter in the Diaspora turns out to vote. Or even take it further and say that all votes of Southern Sudanese abroad votes will be rigged and counted as unity votes. I want to take this angle because it is the loudest rhetoric hence the saying “squeaking wheel gets the grease” immediately!
First, we all should be relieved that there is no question about our achievement of the 51% vote requirement to declare our independence. Even Khartoum has acknowledged that South Sudan will secede if she is allowed to hold the self-determination referendum by large margin.
Our imminent separation is no longer in question in the international community except in the “Arab World” and by a few African head of states who are suffering from inferiority complex. Thanks in part to what the talking heads in Khartoum call “internet separatists” for allowing the international community to learn directly from Southern Sudanese about injustices inflicted upon our people in the united Sudan and our long quest for justice within the united Sudan without any Sudan’s government censorship (they can threaten but who cares!).
Anyway, the Southern Sudan Referendum Commission estimated that there would be approximately 5,000,000 eligible voters inside Southern Sudan based on last election turnout, another 500,000 eligible voters in the Northern Sudan and another 500,000 eligible voters in the Diaspora.
I don’t want to urge much about the numbers now as they do not reflect repatriation of the hundreds of thousands of Southerner Sudanese to Southern Sudan from 2005 up to date. In addition to neglecting the high voter enthusiasm about the referendum participation compare to that of last general election. Notwithstanding the underestimation of Southern Sudanese population during the census which was meant to short change us on the fair sharing of our national power and resources.
In short, there are approximately 358,000 Sudanese abroad according to my research based on the United Nations reports on migration and recent census information from the eight countries in which Southern Sudanese are eligible to registered and vote. This number includes ineligible underage children and northern Sudanese nationals. So the number of eligible voters in the Diaspora at the very most would be about 55% or 196,900 people give or take.
For the sake of this topic let’s take things as they are and say that a total of 6,000,000 people will register. 5,000,000 or 83.3% of all registered voters will be registered and vote within the borders of Southern Sudan. The 500,000 eligible voters in the Diaspora would only account for 8.3% of the total registered voters and those in Northern Sudan eligible voters would then amount to another eight or a total of 17% for the entire Diaspora and Northern Sudan combined.
In other words, South Sudan would still achieve more than the required 60% turnout even if all of Southern Sudan Diaspora do not turnout at all. The independence of Southern Sudan would also be confirmed without a question even if all of Sudanese in the Diaspora voted for the uncalled for continuation of unity with the north. If you doubt this then look at the tremendous turnout of voters in Southern Sudan who are overwhelming one registration station after the other as registration centres continue to run out of registration materials.
The 60% turnout of registered voters required is a double edge sword for the National Islamic Front (NCP) and it must not play with it recklessly. I hope the Khartoum regime hears the calls being made by Southerner Sudanese people and their leadership for a peaceful separation because separation of Southern Sudan is inevitable. We have paid too much of a price in life, limps and property to reverse this vehicle at this time and at any time. Independence of Southern Sudan is our fate and only option. The fate is ours but Sudan’s hate of our very existence has helped us reaffirm separation as the only option after enduring it more than a half of a century.
Sudan’s government resumption of armed conflict to prevent peaceful separation risks the country’s total disintegration and at the end of the day South Sudan will still be independent. The choice is for Northerners to decide whether they want a viable state after secession of Southern Sudan or a region of total chaos in the North. God forbid that the junta will choose violence over peace for they will reap the fruits of their warmongering.
It must also be noted that referendum would be repeated if the 60% voter turnout required is not achieved due to some totally out of this planet logic. There is no reason on earth as to justify this except if Khartoum is determine to totally abrogate the CPA as it has done to all of the agreements it has ever entered into with it peripheries. We must also remember that Khartoum will choose to not accept our rightful choice of independence if the regime is not prepared to come to terms with the imminent separation of South Sudan. The Sudan government will do what it thinks will achieve its objective if forced unity is what they have already chosen but we will prevail.
The winds of freedom are sweeping Southern Sudan than never before. We must not bend over and backwards to appease the “international community”. They can recognise our independence if they are ready for an independent South Sudan by now. The international community frankly doesn’t value Blackman that much and will always protect their interest and not ours unless both interests converge from their perspective.
Given the above statistics, someone maybe asking; what then is the need to participate in the referendum if Diaspora’s vote wouldn’t have much impact? It is important to participate because it is your right and your destiny that is being decided during this self-determination referendum. You can choose to let someone else decide it for you or you decide it for yourself. Either way you must be prepared to take responsibility of your decision and live with its consequences.
In conclusion, the numbers are on our side and the vote for independence is certain with or without rigging of the Diaspora voter registration or the votes thereof. I also want Diaspora to participate especially, those in the Australia, Canada, the United Kingdom and the United States because they will set the ball of separation in motion or give it international momentum it will need in terms of world awareness and getting support of the host countries. Last but not least, I am still saying you don’t have to register but you must vote if you register and do not be afraid to even face fear itself. As history is our witness, we shall be free. God bless South Sudan nation