Voter registration in Sudan’s city of Darfur began Monday in preparation of a referendum expected to be held in April despite calls for a boycott.
The voters are expected to vote for the creation of a Darfur Region or the retention of the status quo of states system.
The referendum was rejected by the armed groups and representatives of displaced persons (IDPs) and refugees affected by the conflict in that region.
Deputy chairman of the IDPs and refugees association Adam Abdalla Idris told Sudan Tribune that the IDP’s organized peaceful marches inside their camps in the five states of Darfur and handed over a memo to the hybrid peacekeeping mission in Darfur (UNAMID) expressing their rejection for the referendum.
He said the referendum which is advocated by the government and the Doha Document for Peace in Darfur (DDPD) signatories is nothing but an attempt to carry out agendas that don’t reflect priorities of the IDPs.
“We refuse to allow [them] bring the referendum ballot boxes inside the IDPs camps. We directed the camps’ chiefs to brief the IDP’s on the risks of the referendum and urge them not to participate in it,” he said.
This registration campaign coincides with an escalation of clashes between the Sudanese army and armed groups near Jebel Marra in central Darfur.
Armed fighting erupted in late January between the Sudanese army and the Sudan Liberation Movement(SLM).
In its weekly bulletin, The Office for Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs(OCHA) in Khartoum said more than 44,000 villagers fleeing the troubled Jebel Marra region in central Darfur continue to flee fighting between Sudanese government forces and the Sudan liberation Movement.
The main Darfur rebel movements also reject this referendum until Khartoum meets other demands including the conclusion of a political agreement with the armed groups in the region and the payment of compensation to individual persons affected by the conflict in that region.
The Sudanese government has stressed that the referendum is a constitutional right that must be applied in accordance with the peace agreement signed in Abuja between Khartoum and the Sudan Liberation Movement.