Former South African president Mbeki lauds Sudan's al-Bashir
Former South African president Thabo Mbeki on Wednesday praised Sudanese President Omar al-Bashir for agreeing to accept the outcome of a Southern Sudan referendum on independence, the South African Press Association reported.
"There is no greater test of statesmanship than to accept, in a graceful, generous and humane manner, the decision of those of your people who have the opportunity to choose secession," Mbeki was quoted as having said at a function in the Sudanese capital Khartoum.
A day earlier, al-Bashir had pledged during a visit to Southern Sudan to recognise the result of the forthcoming referendum, saying that "enforcing unity by force has failed."
Al-Bashir has been indicted by the International Criminal Court (ICC) for war crimes and atrocities in Sudan's Darfur region. Mbeki chaired the African Union committee to investigate the alleged human rights violations and to mediate between Sudan and the ICC.
Some 2 million people have died in the two-decade civil war fought between the largely Christian Southern Sudan and the government, seated in the Muslim north.
Mbeki was himself mired in controversy during his tenure in South Africa, which ended early when he was ousted by his ruling African National Congress party.
He was criticised for his policy of quiet diplomacy towards Zimbabwean President Robert Mugabe, and for his defence of a small group of dissident scientists who claim that HIV does not cause AIDS.