Listen to article

Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon said today he has convened a high-level meeting at the United Nations to discuss the situation in Sudan as it prepares for a vote on the self-determination of the south of the country.

The meeting will be held on 24 September on the sidelines of the annual high-level segment of the General Assembly, Mr. Ban told reporters in New York.

“We have to ensure that the two referenda, regardless of what the results may be, should be conducted in a transparent and peaceful manner. This will have larger regional implications,” the Secretary-General said. “This is almost the last opportunity for world leaders to discuss how we can make sure that this referendum will be successfully and transparently conducted.”

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 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.

In response to a reporter's question, Mr. Ban said he was happy that United States President Barack Obama “has made it clear publicly that he's going to participate in the high-level meeting on Sudan.”

In a related development, David Gressly, the Regional Coordinator for Southern Sudan for the UN Mission in Sudan (UNMIS) has concluded a two-day visit to Warrap and Western Bahr El-Ghazal states by inaugurating the peacekeeping mission's office in Kuajok, the capital of Warrap.

During his trip, Mr. Gressly met with Warrap Governor Nyandeng Malek and Western Bahr El-Ghazal Governor Riziq Zakaria Hassan, as well as members of the two states' referendum high committees and assured them that UNMIS will provide robust logistical support and technical advice on the referenda.

“In an effort to strengthen UNMIS presence before the conduct of referendum, I am happy today to open officially the Warrap Team Site,” said Mr. Gressly, adding that the facility in Kuajok will work closely with the referenda support bases that the mission plans to establish in all of the state's seven counties.