Peaceful and Transparent Process a Milestone for Democracy in War-torn Region
WASHINGTON — July 8 — On July 9, the Republic of South Sudan officially declares its independence from Sudan and becomes the world’s newest nation. The International Foundation for Electoral Systems (IFES) congratulates the people of South Sudan and is honored to have played a part in the peaceful, democratic process that determined the nation’s future.
Unlike the many popular movements currently driving political change in the Middle East and North Africa, South Sudan’s independence is the result of years of careful preparation. In 2005, a Comprehensive Peace Agreement ended decades of civil war between the northern and southern Sudanese and paved the way for national elections in April 2010 and a referendum on self-determination for southern Sudan in January 2011. More than 97 percent of registered southern Sudanese voters cast referendum ballots throughout Sudan and in eight other countries, with 99 percent choosing independence.
“The successful realization of nationwide elections and the historic referendum in South Sudan is a triumph for democracy in a region that has seen tremendous violence,” said IFES President and CEO Bill Sweeney. “IFES is proud of our role in carrying out key provisions of the Comprehensive Peace Agreement by giving the Sudanese people a voice in shaping their future.”
IFES supported Sudan’s National Election Commission and the Southern Sudan Referendum Commission in preparing for and conducting national elections and the referendum on self-determination, respectively. In addition to training election officials and poll workers, IFES procured sufficient voter registration materials, ballots, polling station supplies and polling booths for more than 10 million voters in the April 2010 national elections and nearly 4 million southern Sudanese voters in the January 2011 referendum.
“As Africa welcomes its 54th country, the leaders of this newly independent nation must seek to inaugurate a new era of representative government,” said IFES Africa Regional Director Almami Cyllah. “The citizens of South Sudan should participate in the decision-making process and weigh in on issues that affect their lives.”
In the months and years ahead, South Sudan will need continued support from the international community in areas such as health care, education, infrastructure and governance. IFES will remain in South Sudan to help establish permanent election management bodies, train polling officials and draft the legal framework in support of good governance initiatives that will enable future elections.
IFES is an independent, nonprofit leader in election assistance and democracy promotion. Since its founding in 1987, IFES has worked in 133 countries, from developing to mature democracies.