|The referendum on whether the oil-producing region should declare independence is scheduled for January 9 [Reuters]
The Southern Sudan Referendum Commission says it is "100 per cent ready" for the voting process to begin on January 9.
Chan Reec Madut, deputy chairman of the SSRC and head of its Juba bureau, announced on Monday that a total of 3.9 million southerners have registered for the self-determination vote.
Although the vote is a week-long process ending on January 15, Madut did not rule out extending the number of days if the mobility of people in remote areas is a problem.
He said it was realistic to expect the results three weeks after the last polling date.
Vote counting will be done on a daily basis and results will be displayed at individual centres.
While the preliminary results will be announced from Juba, the final result will be announced in Khartoum.
Madur said he hoped the voting would be as peaceful as the registration process.
He also said that 52 per cent of the registrants are women.
States of South Sudan - Upper Nile: 351,568 Jonglei: 429,043
N B. El Ghazal: 387,143
W B. El Ghazal: 164,497
W Equatoria: 215,313
C Equatoria: 467,851
E Equatoria: 467,620
Elsewhere - North Sudan: 116,000 In the Diaspora: 60,000
Numbers from the SSRC
The last census in 2008 put the south's population at eight million, meaning that about half of residents have registered to vote.
The breakdown of the registrants is: 3.75 million in southern Sudan; 116,000 in northern states; and 60,000 spread over eight countries in the diaspora.
Voter registration also took place in neighbouring Uganda, Kenya, Ethiopia and Egypt, as well as in Australia, Britain, the US and Canada.
Those eligible to vote include permanent residents of south Sudan since 1956, when the country gained independence, and those who can trace their ancestry to an established south Sudan tribe.
Madut said the south’s oil-rich Unity state leads the count, with over half a million voters registered, followed by Warrap, Central Equatoria, and Eastern Equatoria states, with more than 450,000 registrants in each.
The two states with lowest number of registered voters are Western Bahr El Ghazal and Western Equatoria with just over 164,000 and 215,000, respectively.
Madut said the SSRC would wind up its training process before January 6 and start financial training for its staff before the auditing of its finances.
He said there was assurance from the SSRC that the ink would dry quickly after thumbing and would not bleed from the "secession" choice to the "unity" choice when folded, despite technical concerns.
Against this backdrop, a survey carried out by a coalition of civil society organisations in the region revealed that nearly all registered voters in the 10 states of southern Sudan would vote for secession.
John Andruga, the chairman of the coalition, said that 97 per cent of the 1,400 people polled were in favour of secession.
Andruga said in Juba that the states of Unity and Eastern Equatoria were 100 per cent for secession in the survey.
A similar survey carried out last year in southern Sudan by the US-based National Democratic Institute revealed that more than 90 per cent of southerners planned to vote for secession.