Al-Bashir agrees to negotiations on pre-referendum deal

Khartoum- Sudan (PANA) -- Sudanese President Omer al-Bashir has agreed to negotiate with the Southern Sudan on a pre-referendum that could herald the split of the semi-autonomous Southern Sudan from mainland Sudan, state media reports said Wednesday.
The Sudanese leader met the top leader of an African Union special panel on Darfur, Thabo Mbeki, former South African President, and announced he was ready for pre-referendum negotiations.
The announcement came amid a growing unease over the forthcoming national referendum in South Sudan, slated for January, 2011.
The Sudanese President said he was happy to form a joint panel made up of officials from his National Congress Party (NCP) and the Sudan People's Liberation Movement (SPLM), the dominant Southern Sudan party, to discuss an arrangement to secure peace and stability after the referendum.
Mbeki said the talks with al-Bashir focused on the pre-referendum agreement being negotiated, the continued implementation of the North- South agreement, known as the Comprehensive Peace Accord (CPA) and al- Bashir's support for ongoing peace talks in Doha, the Qatari capital.
President al-Bashir met with Mbeki a day before Southern Sudanese President Salva Kiir was due to meet American Vice President Joe Biden for talks on the preparations of the 2011 referendum.
In Southern Sudan, parliamentarians were preparing for a public solidarity march to raise awareness on the importance of the upcoming referendum.
The African Union believes that the unity of the Sudan should be preserved when the landmark referendum vote is held in January.
AU Commission Chief Jean Ping said such a pre-referendum arrangement would enable both parties to reach commitments on whether or not to accept the results.
The pre-referendum arrangement is considered critical to ensure the region does not return to war.
The thinking is that a pre-referendum arrangement will enable the leaders of Sudan to reach compromises on the sharing of future oil resources as was the case during the CPA talks.
The South Sudan enjoys internal autonomy.
However, a vote to secede is considered a dangerous precedence for a fragile continent.
Efforts have been underway to convince Southern Sudanese officials to consider promoting the option of a united Sudan, given that the region's earnings from oil is largely dependent on an oil infrastructure that is largely controlled by the North.

09 june 2010 16:23:00




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