South Sudan's Secession Vote

South Sudan's Secession Vote

When I arrived at the Garang Monument in Juba for the opening ceremonies of southern Sudan’s long-awaited secession vote, I was greeted by thousands of voters eagerly waiting for polling to begin. The line started inside the massive complex and flowed outside; snaking down the wall of a quarter-mile long complex and back again. It was just 7:15 and people had been waiting since 1:00 that morning.

Once voting started, the process was fairly straightforward but slow. A rigorous ID check was implemented to prevent voter fraud, causing the polls to remain open for a week. Most polling stations had the capacity to check only one person’s voter registration at a time. People waited patiently in Sudan’s hot, dry sun for the chance to participate in the future direction of the region.

I asked an older man farther back if he would be disappointed should the polls close before he voted that day. “We have been fighting for this day for more than twenty years!” he said. “I can wait a little while more.”

Jan. 9, 2011

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