(WASHINGTON) -- Voter registration began Monday in Southern Sudan in preparation for the referendum on self-determination set for January 9, 2011, according to a statement released by the White House.
"Voter registration is a critical milestone in that process, and we hope that it will continue unabated. We call on Northern and Southern leaders to finish the work started without the voter registrations process to ensure the referendum in peaceful and occurs on time, and that the will of the people of South Sudan are respected regardless of the outcome," said a statement from the White House Press Secretary's office.
The official White House statement also mentioned how pleased President Obama is with the start of the registration process, and urged both parties to work together in finding a "way forward for Abyei in the interest of lasting peace."
Following the voter registration, set to close Dec. 1, citizens of Southern Sudan will vote Jan. 9 on whether to secede from the rest of the country.
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