, NAIROBI, Kenya, Nov 16 – A voter registration centre has been opened in Nairobi to enable Sudanese residents participate in their country’s general election scheduled to take place in April next year.
Sudanese Ambassador to Kenya Majok Guandong said on Monday that voters will be registered for two weeks and that only Sudanese nationals over 18 years are eligible.
He said that the registration will be conducted at their Embassy near Kabarnet Gardens.
“It is the duty of every citizen to come and register,” he said.
Mr Guandong stated that preparations for the national elections set for next year are going on smoothly.
“Registration is going on all over the country very well. Even in Southern Sudan, the government has ordered all the Ministers and MPs to go to their constituencies for ten days so that they help in the registration of the citizens,” the Ambassador said.
The initiative is part of the Sudanese government to allow nationals living in the Diaspora to participate in the 2010 elections. The registration process which will also take place in Uganda and Malaysia brings the number of countries participating to 14.
And on Monday, hundreds of Sudanese nationals living in Kenya thronged the country’s embassy in Nairobi to beat the November 30 deadline set by the National Elections Commission.
Mr Guandong however denied claims that these initiatives were as a result of pressure from the Southern government.
“The Sudanese in Diaspora have a right to take part in the elections which the government and NEC recognise,” said Mr Guandong.
The Government of Southern Sudan had two weeks ago threatened to boycott elections if certain conditions were not met.
One of the conditions according to the Head of Mission of the Southern government in Nairobi John Duku was opening registration centres in Kenya, Ethiopia, Uganda, Congo-Brazaville and the Democratic Republic of Congo which hosts many South Sudanese refugees.
The list of eligible countries initially distributed to missions abroad included Kuwait, United Arab Emirates, Kingdom of Saudi Arabia, Egypt, Qatar, Sultanate of Oman, Bahrain, the UK, Belgium and USA.
Mr Guandong explained that the opening of new centres was due to the government’s all-inclusive policy.
“Since the signing of the Comprehensive Peace Agreement, many Sudanese have acquired identification and travel documents, which makes them eligible to vote,” he said.
He dismissed the boycott threats stating the national leaders of Southern Sudan were at the forefront encouraging people to register.
“These threats are non-existent and a figment of imagination of a few individuals,” stressed Mr Guandong.
Sudan Missions in the three additional Africans countries will ask NEC for extension of voter registration period, the envoy also said. A second centre in Nairobi will be opened next week to serve the overwhelming figures.
In addition, two more centres will be opened in Nakuru and Eldoret where Mr Guandong observed had many Sudanese nationals.