Sudan Sets Referendum Terms

Oct. 19, 2009, midnight

Representatives of North and South Sudan last Friday agreed to the terms of a January 2011 referendum on whether South Sudan should be an independent state. Main issues were what threshold would constitute an affirmative vote and what baseline population measure would be used to establish whether the vote had achieved a quorum. The parties agreed to an absolute majority threshold, and two-thirds of the population must turn out for an affirmative vote to be valid. According to Vice President Ali Osman TAHA, the quorum will be based on voter registration, not contested data from Sudan's last national census. Representatives of the North originally wanted a higher referendum threshold, reportedly 75 or 90 percent. According to many observers, abundant natural resources in the South fuel most Northern opposition to independence.

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