, NAIROBI, Kenya, Jan 8 – It\’s all systems go for Southern Sudanese residing in Kenya as they prepare for their country\’s historic weeklong referendum which kicks off on Sunday.
While speaking to Capital newsbeat on Saturday, Railways Sports Club Referendum Center Head Deng Deng Jor said all voting centers would open at 8am and close at 5pm every day of the week until next Saturday.
Mr Deng said he expected turn out to be highest on Sunday and Saturday while adding that only those with voters\’ cards would be allowed to vote.
"Without the card they will not be allowed to vote. In fact civic education is going on to remind people to come with their cards. We will have queue controllers who will make sure that only those with their cards queue," he said.
He added that those on the queue at the close of time would still be allowed to vote. Pregnant women, elderly persons and those with physical disabilities will be exempted from queuing.
Mr Deng further explained that the voting cards would be screened to ensure that its details corresponded with those in the final referendum register.
"After that voters will go to the second step where they will be issued with their ballot papers before going to the polling screen to mark their choice. After that they will cast their vote in the ballot box and leave the center," he explained.
He added that Kenya would provide 24-hour security for each voting center with four police officers manning it during the day and another two at night. Twenty four Sudanese staff will also oversee the voting process together with two Kenyans contracted by the International Organization for Migration.
"We expect to be peaceful. You can even see it in the faces of the people. Everybody is just relaxed and they are excited to vote so we don\’t expect any violence because people will just be casting their vote," he said.
Interestingly, the polling streams are organised in terms of the serial numbers on the voting cards and not in alphabetical order, like it is in Kenya. At the Railways Sports Club voting center for example, there will be three stations with various serial numbers.
The serial number will determine which station a voter joins.
"For example station one will have serial number 01… station two will have serial number 02… and station three will have serial number 003…. The whole number is a six digit figure but the first two digits are 01, 02 or 03," he explained.
In Kenya there are 15,057 Sudanese who registered as voters for the upcoming referendum.
After the close of the voting exercise on Saturday, all votes will be counted before the final tally is submitted to both Khartoum and Juba.
But before then, votes cast at the end of each day will be kept in a safe room at the voting center which will be manned by the police.