With polling for Sudan's referendum underway, a Christian charity group is calling on the country's authorities to ensure a peaceful, inclusive, and fair vote.
"A free and fair referendum is critical not only for the people of southern Sudan, but for all Sudan. The outcome of the referendum will affect the lives of all Sudanese and the future of the region," shared John Nduna, General Secretary of the ACT Alliance, a humanitarian network of 105 Christian organizations in 140 countries.
Nduna added that while his group takes no sides and no view on the outcome of the referendum, the verdict of the people of southern Sudan must be respected, whether they decide to secede or stay united with the north.
The referendum, which began yesterday, has been a long awaited moment for the people of Southern Sudan, who are expected to vote to separate from the North, which the Southerners claim treat them as second class citizens.
Christian leaders around the world, including the Archbishop of Canterbury Rowan Williams, are now in prayer for the Sudanese people, which they hope will be liberated from decades of sectarian violence.
"The people of Southern Sudan will be exercising their right of self-determination enshrined in the Comprehensive Peace Agreement signed exactly 6 years ago," Williams said in a statement issued on Friday. "I urge everyone to stand with the Sudanese people to ensure that the referendum takes place peacefully and that the process and the results are fully respected. I ask everyone to support this process and to pray for Sudan at this momentous time in its history."
In order for the secession to happen, a majority of votes from at least sixty percent of Sudan's registered voters are required. The referendum is scheduled to last until Saturday, January 15.