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April 12, 2016

Sudan’s Referendum Disenfranchises Millions of Darfuris

By David Abramowitz, Humanity United Managing Director

From Monday through Wednesday of this week, the Government of Sudan is holding a controversial referendum in Darfur to determine whether to unify Darfur’s five states or leave them as they are.

The decision to go ahead with this referendum is unfortunate for many reasons, particularly because of the millions of Darfuris who have been internally displaced or who are outside the country as refugees and have no ability to make any choice about their future. As members of the international community have pointed out, inadequate security makes it difficult to conduct any fair referendum within the region, and the decision by Khartoum to leave Darfuris outside Darfur ineligible has disenfranchised millions of internally displaced and refugees alike. Perhaps equally concerning is the fact that this referendum is taking place in a context where there is no consensus about the direction of Sudan, with continued violence that has displaced 100,000 Darfuris in 2016 alone. To date, there is no agreement between the parties involved on what the right solution is to the ongoing conflict between Khartoum and its peripheries.

The outcome of the referendum must not be seen as the final outcome for Darfur, where such options as autonomy and federalism have not been explored. The referendum cannot be seen as a legitimate exercise of the rights of the people of Darfur, and the United Nations, the African Union, the United States and other like-minded countries should do nothing to legitimize it. The Darfuri people deserve so much more.

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