'Delayed border demarcation should not delay South Sudan vote'

Addis Ababa- Ethiopia (PANA) -- The African Union (AU) Commissioner for Peace and Security, Ramtane Lamamra, has warned the Sudanese government against using the delayed demarcation of the North-South border line as an excuse to delay the 9 J a nuary, 2011, vote on Southern Sudan's independence.
Speaking Saturday at a top-level meeting on independence vote, Lamamra said alth ough the border demarcation was crucial, it should not be used as a precondition for the holding of the vote.
Sudan should also pull off the table, the deadlock over the Abyei, to facilitate the timely holding of the vote.
"An important issue is the demarcation of the internal north-South border.
This issue needs to be resolved, but should not be considered a precondition for the r eferendum to proceed," Lamamra said.
He said President Omer Al-Bashir's National Congress Party (NCP) and his Vice Pr esident Salva Kiir's Sudan People's Liberation Movement (SPLM) should quickly ag r ee on a formula for the resolution of the Abyei issue, to enable the vote to tak e place.
Talks to clear key obstacles to the successful holding of the Abyei vote have en ded in deadlock.
The two sides have been unable to agree on whether a northern S u dan tribe, the Messiriyah, should be allowed to take part in the voting, to deci d e if Abyei, an oil-rich district, should be ruled by the North or South.
SPLM officials are pushing the North to transfer Abyei's official administration to the South in exchange for some basic guarantees ahead of the independence vote.
Lamamra said the AU had presented a proposal on how to end the deadlock over Aby ei and other issues likely to delay the timely referendum vote.
Former South African President Thabo Mbeki, leading the High-Level Panel on Darf ur, is pushing on the AU plan to broker the deadlock.
"We anticipate that the parties will reach a satisfactory conclusion on the majo r issues shortly," Lamamra said.
Several officials, including the UN Secretary-General's Special Envoy to Sudan, Haile Menkarios, UN-AU Hybrid Force (UNAMID) head, Ibrahim Gambari, and UN Unde r -Secretary-General for Peacekeeping, Alain Le Roy, are attending the meeting to r esolve some of the outstanding issues ahead of the vote.
"There are just 66 days to go before the referendum in Southern Sudan and nine d ays before the registration of the voters will begin.
There is no time to waste, " Lamamra warned.
Meanwhile, Sudanese Foreign Minister Ali Karti avoided mention of any preparations for the referendum vote and instead concentrated mostly on the cris is in Darfur.
He said US$ 1.
9 billion had been set aside to finance development efforts in Dar fur.
The funds would be sourced from the government purse and friendly foreign d o nors.

06 november 2010 17:58:00

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