UN Security Council calls for ‘urgent action’ for peaceful, credible referenda in Sudan

November 17th, 2010 - 1:52 am ICT by BNO News  

UNITED NATIONS (BNO NEWS) — The United Nations (UN) Security Council on Tuesday urged parties to the 2005 peace pact that ended the Sudan’s long-running civil war to take urgent action to ensure the holding of peaceful and credible referenda on self-determination in less than two months’ time.

on January 9, the inhabitants of Southern Sudan will vote on whether to secede from the rest of the country, as part of the final phase in the implementation of the 2005 Comprehensive Peace Agreement which ended two decades of war between the northern-based Government and the Sudan People’s Liberation Movement/Army in the south.

A separate referendum is scheduled to take place on the same day in which the residents of the central and oil-rich area of Abyei will vote on whether to be part of the north or the south.

The panel was set up by UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon in response to a request by the Sudanese Government for a body to help enhance the credibility of the referendum and ensure the acceptance of their results by their constituencies and the international community.

An estimated five million people are eligible to vote, but officials only have 16 days to register them.

In a presidential statement issued at the start of a high-level debate on Sudan, the Council urged the CPA parties to take urgent action “to ensure peaceful, credible, timely and free referenda that reflect the will of the people of South Sudan and Abyei, as provided for in the CPA.”

The 15-member body welcomed the start on Monday of voter registration for the Southern Sudan referendum, while underlining the need to make “rapid progress” on a way forward for Abyei’s referendum, outstanding CPA issues, and on resolving critical post-referendum issues such as security, border, citizenship, currency and natural resources.

The Council also reiterated its call for all parties to fully cooperate with the UN Mission in Sudan (UNMIS) as it carries out its mandate. This includes ensuring full, unhindered access and freedom of movement for UNMIS personnel and equipment, and for the delivery of referenda materials.

Addressing Tuesday’s meeting, Ban said it is a “moment of critical importance” for the Sudanese people and for the sub-region, as the people of Southern Sudan prepare to exercise their right to vote on their future.

“To ensure that the referendum is conducted in an orderly fashion and that the Sudanese people peacefully accept the outcome, it is imperative that the process be credible and transparent, and that it reflect the aspirations of the population,” Ban added.

Furthermore, Ban stated that notwithstanding the international community’s good will and support, the referenda are Sudanese processes.

“The commitment of the international community cannot supplant the willingness of the parties to meet their responsibilities. The Government of Sudan, the Government of Southern Sudan and the Referenda Commissions must rise to this challenge.”

The world body is working with both parties on options for a possible augmentation of UN troops, to increase referendum and post-referendum security as well as its capacity to verify and monitor possible cease-fire violations and to protect civilians throughout the mission area.

However, the Secretary-General noted, the presence of UN troops will not be enough to prevent a return to war should widespread hostilities erupt.

“Only a demonstrated commitment by the parties to refrain from inflammatory statements, uphold the CPA ceasefire mechanisms and reassure the population of their willingness to work together, will succeed in maintaining peace,” he said.

In addition, Ban stressed the urgent need to reach a comprehensive and inclusive settlement on the situation in Darfur, where renewed clashes are taking place on the ground between Sudanese Armed Forces and various rebel groups.

“The disturbing implication of this fighting is that the parties have not yet decided to give up the military path,” he said, adding that the role of the Council in spurring peace efforts remains “essential.”

“I urge you to help build bridges between North and South and, in the same spirit, to ensure that the fundamental imbalances fueling conflict elsewhere in Sudan are addressed, so that Darfur can be brought into a stable, prosperous and equitable future for Sudan.”

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