SOUTH SUDAN REFERENDA WILL BE FREE AND TRANSPARENT, GENERAL ASSEMBLY HEARS
27 September - The people of southern Sudan will be able to vote freely and in an atmosphere of transparency during the referenda on the self-determination of the semi-autonomous region in January, the country's Vice President Ali Osman Mohamed Taha told the General Assembly today.
Inhabitants of the south will vote on 9 January next year on whether to secede from Sudan or remain united with the rest of the country, as stipulated under the Comprehensive Peace Agreement (CPA), which formally ended two decades of fighting between the northern-based Government and the Sudan People's Liberation Movement/Army (SPLM/A) in the south.
At the same time, residents of the central area of Abyei will vote separately on whether to retain the region's special administrative status in the north or become part of Bahr el-Ghazal state in the south.
Mr. Taha said southerners will be allowed to exercise their franchise without “coercion or dictation and in an atmosphere of integrity and transparency.”
At a high-level meeting on Sudan, convened by Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon on the margins of the annual general debate of the General Assembly in New York last Friday, world leaders and high-ranking officials renewed their support for the parties to the CPA as they embark on the critical final phase of the agreement – the referenda.
On Darfur, the western region of Sudan where conflict has raged since 2003, Mr. Taha said that the Government was making efforts to restore peace and security in the area, bring about development, resettle internally displaced persons (IDPs) and promote reconciliation between communities.
He said for the peace strategy to succeed, it will require partnership with other States and the joint African Union-UN peacekeeping force in Darfur, known as UNAMID.