Historic vote draws a crowd

A Colac Sudanese man says voting in a referendum to shape his homeland’s future was an important moment in his life.

Bichok Guandong travelled to Melbourne on Sunday to cast his vote for the separation of southern Sudan from the north.

Mr Guandong, originally from southern Sudan, said the vote was an important step in the path to peace.

“This is what my people have been waiting for,” Mr Guandong said.

After decades of violence between Sudan’s predominantly Islamic north and Christian south, the vote could result in a new independent southern Sudan.

Mr Guandong, a dual citizen of Sudan and Australia, said he was determined to make his vote count.

“I travelled to Melbourne with my family and friends to the polling booth in Footscray, and we were very excited,” Mr Guandong said.

“We arrived there at 11 in the morning and didn’t get to vote until around 3pm because the line was so long, the polling place didn’t expect it to be that busy but people came from everywhere, probably about 10,000 people.

“It was my very first time voting democratically for Sudan, all I knew was war and dictators before I came to Australia.

“Some people were frustrated that it was taking too long to vote but mostly everybody was happy, some people have waited lifetimes to see this so one day isn’t a big problem.”

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