It's here at last! Voting day, or at least the first of 7 days when the polls will be open for voters in South Sudan to vote on whether whey want to seperate from the North and divide Africa's larget country. The news reports are that that voter turn-out is high. Almost 4 million people have registered to vote, with sixty thousand of those living in 8 countries outside of Sudan: including Kenya, Uganda, the US, Canada, and the UK. Polling stations have been busy, yet orderly and calm. Several Sudanese interviewed by the media report that they have waited for this event for years, even decades, and there is a palpable sense of euphoria in the air.
Because of the high rate of illiteracy in South Sudan voting will be done with a thumbprint made below the symbol of the voters choice. A sample ballot is below.
It is widely expected that the South will vote for secession from the North. In order for this to happen 60% of those registered need to vote and win a majority of the ballots. The final results are expected to be officially announced on February 6th. And if the outcome is secession South Sudan will become the world's newest nation on July 9th, 2011.
The oil-rich area of Abyei is waiting to hold a seperate vote on whether to join the north or south. The border has yet to be demarcated. Pray for this precarious situation and the people inhabiting this area. Pray also for the western area of Darfur. Rebel leaders have yet to sign a peace agreement with the central government in Khartoum.
Here are a few excellent resources to help you understand more about this part of the world as you continue to pray.
In this BBC article there is a great map of north and south Sudan. By clicking on the headings of the map you can see the stark differences in food security, education, infant mortality rates, etc. between north and south.
Thorough up-to-date news on the situation in Sudan can be found here.
What happens in Sudan during this next week will have consequences internationally, locally, and in His Kingdom. Much is at stake throughout Sudan so let's continue praying that there will be a fresh outpouring of His spirit in this divided country.
Pray for those of us in Mango Ministries to be available and ready to walk with the Sudanese, whatever the referendum outcome, in the days, weeks, and months ahead.