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Sudan begins key census amid difficulties

Latest update : 2008-04-22

Sudan started its first census in 15 years, a milestone in the peace deal that ended Africa's longest civil war. Khartoum, assisted by the UN, says it has prepared the most comprehensive population count ever held in the country. (Story: S.Sitbon)

KHARTOUM, April 22 (Reuters) - Work on Sudan's first census
since a landmark 2005 north-south peace deal began on Tuesday
after months of wrangling, with President Omar Hassan al-Bashir
the first to be counted at midnight.
 

Streets in the capital Khartoum were quiet on the national
holiday after police told people to stay at home to be counted
in the census. The count will help to determine the distribution
of wealth and power and to set constituencies before Sudan's
first democratic elections in 23 years due next year.
 

But reflecting the disharmony in Africa's largest country,
the south reserved the right not to be bound by the results of
the count saying millions of southerners displaced to the north
during the war should go home first and that questions on
ethnicity and religion be inserted into the questionnaire.
 

And hundreds of thousands of victims of a separate five-year
conflict in Sudan's western Darfur region also rejected the
census saying they did not trust the government.
 

The census will continue for two weeks with final results
not expected before September.

Date created : 2008-04-22

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