See also:
» 31.01.2011 - It is official: South Sudan to secede
» 17.01.2011 - South Sudan referendum "a success"
» 10.12.2010 - South Sudan: historic vote or new conflict?
» 16.11.2010 - UN "deeply concerned" about Sudan referendum
» 21.10.2010 - 1.5m Sudanese being moved from north to south
» 14.07.2010 - "Sudan unprepared for independence vote"
» 16.06.2010 - Sigh of relief over new Sudan unity govt
» 21.04.2010 - Sudan election results censored

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Sudan referendum timetable spells trouble

Salva Kiir Mayardit, President of autonomous South Sudan

© Tim McKulka/UN Photo/afrol News
afrol News, 7 October
- Sudanese leaders have indicated it could e difficult to comply with the tight timetable to organise a referendum over the secession of South Sudan by 9 January. Now, the South threatens to go ahead with the vote alone, if necessary.

According to the Sudanese north-south peace agreement, on 9 January the inhabitants of southern Sudan will vote on whether to secede from the rest of the country, while the residents of the central area of Abyei will vote on whether to be part of the north or the south.

The UN Security Council is currently touring Sudan, with a special focus on Darfur and the upcoming plebiscites. The Council had been upset by indications from the Khartoum government that the two upcoming referenda could be delayed due to technical problems.

The Council, visiting the southern capital Juba, "today stressed that the two referenda scheduled for January must be held on time, in a peaceful environment and according to the provisions of the peace agreement that ended the war between the north and the south," according to reports from the UN.

In Juba, southern President Salva Kiir gave a clear signal to the Security Council delegation. According to British Council member Mark Lyall Grant, President Kiir said that if there was a delay induced by the Khartoum government, "it might be necessary for the south to hold their own referendum; go ahead with the referendum in any event."

President Kiir however had emphasised that he was not going to be declaring a unilateral declaration of independence if the plebiscite is delayed.

As there are warnings from think-tanks, church societies and humanitarian agencies about the risk of renewed war if the January referenda fail, the UN Security Council members urged both President Kiir and his northern counterparts to stick to every detail in the peace agreement, while promising further assistance from the UN.

Meanwhile, the Khartoum government is accusing President Kiir of "going against the" 2005 peace agreement as he earlier this month had stated he would vote in favour of independence. Mr Kiir, who is also Vice President of Sudan, according to the peace deal is obliged to make the unity option "attractive".

The major concern about the timetable, however, is that the north and south still have failed to work out an agreement on how to share oil revenues in the border areas after a foreseen split. The oil-rich border region could be the new source of a war even after a successful referendum, many observers fear.

After two days in Juba, the UN Security Council delegation travelled to Darfur today, from where they will proceed to Khartoum before completing their Sudan mission on Saturday. It is still not clear whether they will meet with President Omar al-Bashir, who is wanted by the ICC for war crimes in Darfur.

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