Freedom House Urges Free and Transparent Vote in Southern Sudan | Freedom House

Freedom House Urges Free and Transparent Vote in Southern Sudan

Washington

Sunday’s referendum on the future status of Southern Sudan provides an historic opportunity for the Southern Sudanese people to determine the future of their country. Regardless of the referendum outcome, Freedom House urges Southern Sudanese and the international community to commit to building a democratic political system based on the rule of law and respect for human rights.   
 
Beginning on January 9, 2011, an estimated 4 million Southern Sudanese will go to the polls to decide whether to remain part of a unified Sudan or to secede and establish a new independent country.  The referendum is part of the Comprehensive Peace Agreement (CPA) that was negotiated with the involvement of the United States and created a pathway to peace after a brutal decades-long civil war.  On the eve of the referendum critical issues such as demarcation of borders, citizenship, and division of Sudan's oil revenues remain unresolved, generating uncertainty and fear the country could again be plunged into armed conflict.
 
“While Sunday’s vote is likely to constitute a crucial first step towards an independent Southern Sudan, it would be a tragedy if the sacrifice and suffering of Southern Sudanese to have their own country resulted in the trading of one authoritarian regime for another,” said David J. Kramer, Executive Director of Freedom House. “Southern Sudan’s successful transition to democracy requires the emergence of a free and independent press and local organizations capable of holding the government to account.”
 
Progress in building a well-functioning governing structure in the largely autonomous Southern Sudan has been slow, owing to weak institutions, corruption, little citizen oversight and other formidable challenges.   The Government of Southern Sudan (GoSS), which is dominated by the Sudan People’s Liberation Movement (SPLM), has struggled to transition from a rebel force to an effective government. In the April 2010 election, opposition groups alleged that the SPLM succeeded in suppressing competition with intimidation and fraud. Reports of harassment, arbitrary arrests and attacks on opposition figures, election observers and journalists by security forces are cause for concern about the prospects for a democratic Southern Sudan in the post-referendum period.
 
Sudan is ranked Not Free in Freedom in the World 2010, Freedom House's survey of political rights and civil liberties, and Not Free in Freedom of the Press 2010.
 
Freedom House is an independent watchdog organization that supports democratic change, monitors the status of freedom around the world, and advocates for democracy and human rights.  
 
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Freedom House is an independent watchdog organization that supports democratic change, monitors the status of freedom around the world, and advocates for democracy and human rights.

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