Thousands of southerners turned out across Juba this morning to begin voting in a long awaited independence referendum. I am, to some degree, a bit surprised by how calm things have been in recent days. In the months leading up to the vote, pro-separation activists were tremendously active in the capital. I expected the streets to be packed up independence supporters in the days before the referendum. Oddly, this was not the case.
Voting got underway this morning with few reports of disorder or irregularity. The registration issues that plagued last April’s parliamentary, presidential and gubernatorial elections seem to have been adequately addressed.
I am dismayed a recent reports of clashes in Abyei, Unity State and Jonglei. I hope that spoiler groups can be convinced of the importance of a peaceful vote.
I am quite exhausted, having been up early and gone to bed late for many recent nights. There is excitement in the air, however, and that is giving me strength.
Here are some snaps from the last 24 hours in Juba.