27 July - Presidential and parliamentary elections in Sudan in April marked an important milestone in the implementation of the peace agreement that ended civil war in the country despite operational challenges, Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon says in a new report, urging both parties to the deal to continue their efforts to expand the democratic process.

“I strongly encourage both Comprehensive Peace Agreement (CPA) partners to work with all political parties in a transparent manner to maintain and expand the nascent democratic space, including, in particular, law reform consistent with the CPA and the interim constitution of the Sudan, which is critical for the remaining CPA processes, especially the referendums,” Mr. Ban says in a report to the Security Council on the implementation of the peace agreement.

The CPA was signed in 2005 formally ending two decades of civil war between the northern-based Government and the Sudan People's Liberation Movement/Army (SPLM/A) in the south. Following the agreement, the SPLM formed the autonomous Government of Southern Sudan.

The CPA provide for a referendum on self-determination for southern Sudan on 9 January next year. On the same day, residents of Abyei area in central Sudan in vote on a separate referendum on whether to retain Abyei's special administrative status in the north or become part of southern Sudan.

In his report to the Security Council, the Secretary-General says that the referendums will require significant international support to be viewed as credible, but notes that while both parties have indicated their desire for extensive United Nations involvement in the processes, they have yet to agree on the precise scope of the UN role.

Mr. Ban says in the report that a joint request by both parties detailing the required additional support and role for the UN is a precondition for precise planning and timely delivery.

“I urge the parties to take full advantage of UNMIS [UN Mission in Sudan] and other international partners' offers of material, technical, logistical and 'good offices' assistance,” the Secretary-General says.

He notes that the CPA foresees international monitoring of the referendums, and both parties intend to request the UN to provide monitors to work alongside the observers whom they plan to invite from several governments and international institutions.

“International monitoring, which is stipulated in the Comprehensive Peace Agreement as necessary, will be critical for the credibility and acceptance of the referendum outcomes and for subsequent peace,” Mr. Ban says.

The report says that the need for a workable agreement on post-referendum arrangements remains acute, and welcomes both parties' agreement on a procedural framework and African Union (AU) facilitation for bilateral talks on post-referendum arrangements.

“I emphasize that efforts will have to be accelerated to provide the necessary clarity on critical questions within the time remaining. UNMIS and other international partners stand ready to assist the parties during the negotiations and to support the implementation of agreements they reach,” the Secretary-General says.

The Secretary-General deplores continued restrictions on the freedom of movement of UNMIS by both parties, which he says violated the Status of Forces Agreement and seriously compromises the ability of the mission to monitor and verify the implementation of security arrangements and to assist the parties in preventing conflict and instability.

The Secretary-General reported that as of 30 June, UNMIS had deployed 9,935 of its authorized 10,000 military personnel, including 496 military observers, 192 staff officers and 9,247 troops.