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Sudan lawmakers adopt law on referendum for southern independence

[JURIST] Sudanese lawmakers on Tuesday adopted a law addressing how a 2011 referendum for southern independence will be conducted. Agreed to earlier this month [JURIST report] by leaders of the ruling National Congress Party (NCP) [party website] of President Omar al-Bashir [BBC profile; JURIST news archive] and the Sudan People's Liberation Movement (SPLM) of Salva Kiir [BBC profile], the referendum will require a 60 percent voter turnout and a 51 percent affirmative vote in order to pass. SPLM lawmakers and other southern representatives withdrew from the proceedings [AFP report] in protest, concerned that the allowance of absentee voting by southerners living elsewhere will negatively affect the vote.

Under the 2005 Comprehensive Peace Agreement (CPA) [UN press release] that ended two decades of civil war, Sudan is expected to hold its first democratic multi-party elections in almost a quarter of a century in April 2010. Although the country's parliament approved the appointment [JURIST report] of an electoral commission to oversee the vote, the ruling National Congress Party (NCP) [party website] and the SPLM accused each other [JURIST report] of fraud, torture, intimidation, and sabotage as voters began registering last month. In July 2008, the parliament passed a long-anticipated electoral law [JURIST report] dictating how the country's parliamentary seats will be allotted. The law reserves some seats for candidates chosen by popular vote, and some for proportional representation of political parties including seats reserved for women.

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