UN Security Council urges respect for January polls in Sudan
A United Nations Security Council delegation visiting Sudan on Thursday said two referenda scheduled for January should take place in a non-violent environment, dpa reported.
The two polls would determine the future of the government of national unity in Khartoum between north and south Sudan, which was established in 2005 to end decades of a civil war between the two sides.
The Comprehensive Peace Agreement (CPA) signed by Khartoum and Southern Sudan in 2005 called for the two referenda on January 9, 2011, in which South Sudan would either choose to remain in the power-sharing government or secede. The second referendum will be held by residents of the oil-rich border region of Abyei to choose between the north or the south.
"We are here to reinforce that message and the determination of the Security Council to support you and all parties to the CPA in that process," said US Ambassador Susan Rice, leader of the delegation.
The two votes constitute the final phase of the implementation of the CPA, which is self-determination for Southern Sudan.
Rice said the "core responsibility" for the successful implementation of CPA remains in the hands of the regional government of Southern Sudan, the national government in Khartoum and the Sudanese people.
It has been feared that Khartoum would not respect the outcomes of the referenda and violence would erupt in case of a secession by South Sudan.
The council delegation visited Kampala, Uganda, before Darfur, where a 20,000-strong UN-African Union peacekeeping operation is monitoring peace agreements between Khartoum and African rebel groups. A separate peacekeeping mission with 10,000 military and civilian personnel is also monitoring the peace between Khartoum and Southern Sudan.
The UN said the delegation visited Juba, the capital of Southern Sudan, where it met with Salva Kiir, president of Southern Sudan, before arriving in Darfur on Thursday. Kiir is also a vice president in the Khartoum government. The delegation will return to New York on Saturday.