'Miracle' needed to hold Sudan vote on time: commission

Demarcation of Abyei's border and the participation of the Misseriya Arabs in the referendum have caused disagreements

It will take "a miracle" for south Sudan's independence referendum to be held as scheduled on January 9, the referendum commission's head warned on Thursday.

"It will be a miracle because the timetable is already so tight," Mohammed Ibrahim Khalil told a press briefing in the Sudanese capital, going through the logistical preparations.

"The process faces several difficulties. The referendum could start on time but we don't even have a single day as a margin for manoeuvre. If an unforeseen problem arises, it will cause a problem for the timetable."

He said registration on the electoral list was due to start on November 14 but is to be delayed by a day because the commission had received the forms printed in South Africa a day late.

However, this would not affect the January 9 date, Khalil said, adding that the final list would be published on January 4.

He said the commission has received funds from the Khartoum government as well as the government of semi-autonomous south Sudan but not yet the funding due from international donors.

The ballot is the centrepiece of a 2005 peace agreement between north and south Sudan that ended Africa's longest-running civil war and gave former southern rebels a share in government.

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'Miracle' needed to hold Sudan vote on time: commission
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Oct 28, 2010 - 6:22:20 AM