Source: unic.org

Police officers serving with the United Nations Mission in Sudan (UNMIS) are helping train their counterparts in southern Sudan on providing security during the upcoming referenda on the self-determination of the region.

Some 40 officers from the Southern Sudan Police Service (SSPS) have arrived in Juba to start the five-day course, UNMIS said in a statement yesterday.

The training for the second batch of officers receiving the training was inaugurated by Ann-Marie Orler, Police Adviser and Director in the UN Department of Peacekeeping Operations.

The referenda are provided for in the Comprehensive Peace Agreement (CPA), which was signed in 2005 and formally ended 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.

Inhabitants of southern Sudan will vote on 9 January next year on whether to secede from Sudan or remain united with the rest of the country. On the same day, residents of Abyei area in central Sudan will vote separately on whether to retain Abyei's special administrative status in the north or become part of southern Sudan.

“I understand that we are entering a very challenging moment of the CPA, so we as UNMIS would like to give advice to the police service… and train them on democratic transformations and policing,” said Ms. Orler, who arrived in southern Sudan on Sunday for a three-day visit.

Organized by the SSPS, UN Police (UNPOL) and Norway, the training course has drawn a total of 120 officers from all 10 southern Sudanese states. They will then share their new skills with their colleagues when they return to their bases.

“We need the referendum to be peaceful,” said SSPS Deputy Inspector General Gordon Micah Kur. “For it to be peaceful, it requires proper efforts exerted by the police,” he added.

Mr. Kur said the police will be responsible for overseeing the conduct of the referenda and safeguarding the security of the ballot boxes during the tabulation of votes.

Ms. Orler said one of the challenges facing the SSPS is lack of experience and instruction in law enforcement for police officers before they enlist in the force. “We will exert every effort to professionalize them,” she said.

Police Captain Andrew Jagei said he was looking forward to the training course. “I will better my people by ensuring that the referendum receives maximum security,” he said.