Addis Ababa- Ethiopia (PANA) -- As heads of state gather in the Ethiopian capital for the 53-member continental body's annual Assembly, the African Union (AU) on Monday urged Sudan to step up efforts to rescue the Comprehensive Peace Agreemen t (CPA) and hold democratic elections in April.
The statement came at the conclusion of the meeting of the Ministerial Committee on Post-Conflict Reconstruction and Development in the Sudan (PCRD) held in Add i s Ababa, on the margins of the AU summit.
According to an AU press statement on Monday, "the Committee stressed the need f or the Sudanese parties to spare no efforts to overcome the challenges facing th e implementation of the CPA, including the successful conduct of the elections an d the democratic transformation of the country.
" The January 2005 CPA formally ended Africa's longest civil war between the Khart oum government and the Southern insurgents, Sudan People's Liberation Movement/A r my (SPLM/A).
The CPA provides for a referendum for South Sudan in January 2011.
Recently, there have been reports that the CPA may fail from a spill over of the conflicts in Darfur.
Despite indications by Sudanese President Omar Al-Bashir that he is ready to acc ept the southerners' decision, fears are high that the April elections and the o u tcome of the referendum may lead to renewed conflicts.
"Full and faithful implementation of the CPA is in the best interest of the Suda nese people, the countries in the region and even for other African countries," s aid UN Secretary General Ban Ki-Moon on Sunday in the Ethiopian capital.
"We have been working very closely to see the result of this CPA would be unity attractive, [though] of course, UN stands ready to respect whatever the outcome o f the referendum may be," the UN chief said.
Border demarcation, resolving the issue of Abyei - a contested oil-rich region - and addressing the issue of insecurity in South Sudan are also the issues the P C RD wants Khartoum to work on.
The Committee reviewed developments in Sudan since its last meeting, as they rel ate to the implementation of the CPA, "bearing in mind the momentous events that Sudan will be witnessing over the coming months -- the April 2010 election and t h e January 2011 referendum for south Sudan," the statement reads.
It also discussed the status of post-conflict reconstruction and development eff orts in Southern Sudan.
In this regard, it highlighted the contributions made by members of the Committe e and other African countries in the areas of human resource development, food s e curity, development of energy, resettlement of refugees and IDPs, education, hea l th, capacity building, road construction and urban development, and urged for re n ewed efforts in support of post-conflict reconstruction in the Sudan.
The Committee, formed in July 2003 at an AU summit in Maputo, Mozambique, is cha ired by South Africa with Algeria, Egypt, Ethiopia, Gabon, Kenya, Nigeria, Seneg a l and the Sudan as members.
Conflicts in Sudan are among the major peace and security issues the AU summit i s expected to discuss on Monday along with approval of its budget for 2010 and n e w members of the Peace and Security Council.
The opening on Sunday of the AU summit was characterized by appeals for urgent a ttention to the continent's most pressing security challenges, Sudan and Somalia .
Ban, who attended a brief summit on Sudan, said time was of the essence, with el ections just three months away, and referenda to determine the future shape of S u dan in just under a year.
He said: "First, we will seek to forge consensus among member states on the way forward.
Second, we will continue to strengthen the U.
presence on the ground.
Third, we will promote discussions on key post-referendum issues.
Fourth, we wil l build the capacity of South Sudanese institutions.
" Ban also called for greater international support for Somalia's fragile transiti onal government, but indicated there were no immediate plans to establish a UN p e acekeeping force in the Horn of Africa state.
African countries are instead being asked to contribute more troops to the AU fo rce - AMISOM.
The force consists of 5,200 Burundian and Ugandan troops backing a beleaguered Somali army that has been unable to drive out well-financed insurgen t s believed to have close ties to al-Qaeda.