AU chief says Sudan peace prospects appear unpredictable

Addis Ababa- Ethiopia (PANA) -- The peace prospects in Sudan appear unpredictable ahead of the decisive Presidential and parliamentary elections in April 2010 an d a political referendum in 2011, the African Union (AU) chief, Jean Ping, said h e re Wednesday.
The AU chief, who offered a cautiously optimistic view of the state of peace and security in the continent, said fears of resumption of conflict in Southern Sud a n appeared valid as Sudan heads towards a decisive political phase in its histor y .
â?We do not pretend that in 2010, there would be no crisis, but Africa hopes to find African solutions to these crises,â? the AU chief told journalists in Addi s Ababa on the sidelines of an AU Summit, underway in the Ethiopian capital.
â?The ultimate goal is to protect the people of Africa from fear,â? he said, r eferring to the launch of the International Year of Peace and Security.
Sudan is currently preparing to hold the first major multiparty elections to be followed by a referendum for the independence of the oil-rich but semi-autonomou s Southern Sudan region.
Ping said it was not immediately clear if the results of the presidential electi ons would be acceptable to all the Sudanese political parties and warned that th e political stability of Southern Sudan also depended mostly on the outcome of th e referendum.
â?We still have two difficult wars, painful conflicts with very dim prospects,â ? he told journalists, referring to the political situations in Sudan and Somali a.
Sudanese President Omar El-Bashir was recently quoted as saying that Khartoum wo uld cooperate with South Sudan.
The comments implied a wish to accept the indepe n dence of the South.
Recent efforts have concentrated on â?making unity attractiveâ? for the Southe rn Sudanese, who fought a 21-year-long civil war with the North over access to p o litical power and sharing the massive oil wealth from the Southern Sudan oil fie l ds.
The North and the Southern Sudan leaders have reached some agreements regarding the conditions of holding the referendum.
But disagreements later ensued when Southern Sudan insisted that the Northerners living in the South should not be eligible to vote in the 2011 referendum becau s e this would alter the results in favour of the North.
â?We are preoccupied with the process of holding the elections, how to organize it in 2010 and the question is, will war break out.
The prospects are not rosy, â ? Ping warned.
He said the political process in Darfur depended on the full implementation of t he Thabo Mbeki plan on dealing with impunity and justice for the people of Darfu r .

27 january 2010 14:25:00

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