Rights of all voters in Southern Sudan referendum must be respected

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Friday, 7 January, 2011

As 3.9 million people across South Sudan prepare to vote in a referendum on self-determination beginning this Sunday, The Elders have urged international and Sudanese officials to respect the rights of all voters - whatever the outcome.

Jimmy Carter and Kofi Annan to take part in observer mission

7 January 2011
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The Elders have urged international and Sudanese officials across the country to ensure that the rights of all voters are respected in the week-long referendum beginning on Sunday, 9 January 2011.

Two members of The Elders, former US President Jimmy Carter and former UN Secretary-General Kofi Annan, will observe the referendum process as part of the Carter Center’s international observation mission.

The vote on self-determination for Southern Sudan is part of the 2005 Comprehensive Peace Agreement that ended more than 20 years of war between North and South Sudan. 3.9 million people have registered to vote, more than half of them women.

Jimmy Carter


Jimmy Carter said:

“This referendum is a critical step in the implementation of the Comprehensive Peace Agreement. I am encouraged to see that President Bashir and President Kiir have appeared together ahead of the vote.

“I hope that they will continue to call for calm and ensure that all those who wish to vote, and who are eligible to do so, can vote freely. Most importantly, the outcome of the referendum must be respected by all.”

Kofi Annan


Kofi Annan said:

“This is an enormously important moment for the future of Southern Sudan, for Sudan and for Africa as a whole. I urge the governments in the north and south to ensure that the people can voice their aspirations in a peaceful and transparent environment and that the democratic outcome of the vote is respected.

“It is also important that the international community maintains a coherent and unified approach during the voting period, and in supporting reconstruction and renewal in the post-referendum future.”

Desmond Tutu


Chair of The Elders, Archbishop Desmond Tutu, said:

“This is a moment of great potential after so much suffering. I hope with all my heart that the referendum will set the people of Sudan firmly on the path to lasting peace.

“Whatever the outcome, the governments in the north and south will have to continue to work together for a peaceful transition to conclude the CPA. We shall watch and pray that the people’s wishes are respected and that peace prevails.”

Read more about the Elders’ work on Sudan.

The Elders' media release: Sudan: The Elders call on all parties to ‘respect the will of the people’ (8/12/10)

Carter Center media release: Jimmy Carter, Kofi Annan, Joseph Warioba, and John Hardman to Lead Carter Center Delegation to Observe Referendum on Self-Determination of Southern Sudan (3/1/11)


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About The Elders

The Elders are an independent group of global leaders, brought together by Nelson Mandela in 2007, who offer their collective influence and experience to support peace- building, help address major causes of human suffering and promote the shared interests of humanity.

The Elders are Martti Ahtisaari, Kofi Annan, Ela Bhatt, Lakhdar Brahimi, Gro Brundtland, Fernando Henrique Cardoso, Jimmy Carter, Graça Machel, Mary Robinson and Desmond Tutu (Chair). Nelson Mandela and Aung San Suu Kyi are honorary Elders.

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