98 is the number of days left before the highly-anticipated South Sudan referendum is slated to take place, on January 9, 2011.
The 15th of November is the day when voter registration is expected to begin, according to the South Sudan commission chairman Mohammed Ibrahim Khalil—a three-week delay to allow for registration forms to be distributed to the 3,600 (yet-to-be-established) registration centers.
The 9th of the October is the day when voter registration should have been completed, according to the Comprehensive Peace Agreement, which specifies that voter registration should be completed three months before the vote.
370,000,000 dollars is the budget the referendum commission approved last Tuesday for implementing the vote, an important step that will allow the commission to begin recruiting and training referendum staff.
79 is the number of county referendum bases that the United Nations peacekeeping mission in Sudan, or UNMIS, will set up in South Sudan (one in each county) to assist with the conduct of the referendum, including obtaining and distributing referenda materials.
16 is the number of helicopters UNMIS has available for the distribution of materials to remote areas of the South that are inaccessible by road; the peacekeeping mission has asked for eight more helicopters.
16 is also the number of observers that the Carter Center has sent as its first team into South Sudan. Four two-person observer teams have been deployed to South Sudan.
1,500,000 is an estimate of the number of southerners in the North who are potentially vulnerable to expulsion and persecution by the Sudanese government if secession takes place. Concerns were heightened last Saturday, when Khartoum’s information minister Kamal Obeid announced that southerners’ rights will be denied if secession is the outcome of the referendum vote. Obeid said:
They will not enjoy citizenship rights, jobs or benefits, they will not be allowed to buy or sell in [the] Khartoum market and they will not [be] treated in hospitals. We will not even give them a needle in the hospital.
26 is the percentage of the southern army that has redeployed south of the 1956 border between North and South Sudan, according to the commission tasked with monitoring and supporting implementation of the CPA. A Sudanese government minister warned recently that if the remaining southern soldiers were not moved south of the border—as mandated by the CPA—the ruling National Congress Party may reject the results of the referendum.
70,000 is the number of northern troops that stand waiting at the border, said southern army spokesperson Kuol Diem Kuol, in response to the Khartoum minister’s threat above.
20 is the estimated percentage of the North-South border that is still undefined by the border committee.
15 is the number of members on the U.N. Security Council, which will be visiting Sudan this week to press for an acceleration of referenda preparations. After almost cancelling the trip because of members’ refusal to meet with the ICC-indicted Sudanese President Omar al-Bashir, the council, including the U.S., French, and British ambassadors, will be traveling first to Kampala, then go on to Juba, Darfur, and Khartoum.
Photo: Southerners in Juba register to vote in the countrywide election last April (Enough/Maggie Fick)