UN Panel arrives in Sudan for referendum

Khartoum, Sudan (PANA) - Members of the United Nations Secretary-General’s Panel tasked with monitoring the upcoming referenda on self-determination in Sudan arrived in Khartoum on Wednesday to begin a crucial visit on the eve of the vote.

The three-member Panel made up of Mr. Benjamin Mkapa of Tanzania, Mr. António Monteiro of Portugal and Mr. Bhojraj Pokharel of Nepal will travel around the country as they monitor the polls, counting and aggregation of results, a release by the Panel said.

It pointed out that the three-man panel will also meet with key stakeholders, including senior officials from the Government of Sudan, the Government of Southern Sudan, the Southern Sudan Referendum Commission, international and domestic observer groups and the diplomatic community.

“We are on the eve of a historic moment for the people of Southern Sudan. This vote is the culmination of the Comprehensive Peace Agreement (CPA), which brought an end to a conflict that caused so much misery and cost so many lives,” said Benjamin Mkapa, the chair of the Panel and a former President of Tanzania, on arrival in Khartoum.

“We urge everyone who has registered for the referendum to vote so that the will of the people can be expressed. We hope that the voting will be peaceful and orderly and we call on voters to be patient if the queues are long or if there are logistical challenges.”

Voting begins on 9 January and is scheduled to continue until 15 January. It will take place in both northern and southern Sudan and in eight other countries with significant diaspora populations, namely, Australia, Canada, Egypt, Ethiopia, Kenya, Uganda, the United Kingdom and the United States.

“The Panel is playing a good offices role on behalf of Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon to strengthen confidence in the Sudanese-led referenda process, and to encourage the parties and relevant authorities to resolve any significant problems or disputes as they emerge. This will be its fourth visit to Sudan since October,” the release said.

The Panel has the task of monitoring the processes for two referenda: one on the status of Southern Sudan, and one on the status of the Abyei Area.

In its previous statements the Panel noted that it has grave concerns about the situation in Abyei, and it urged the communities to resolve their problems peacefully, the release pointed out.

Mr. Ban formed the Panel after the parties to Sudan’s CPA requested a UN monitoring body to help enhance the credibility of the referenda and therefore ensure the acceptance of their results by the people of Sudan and the international community.

Mr. Monteiro is a former Minister of Foreign Affairs of Portugalehile Mr. Pokharelis a former Chairman of the Election Commission of Nepal.
-0- PANA MO/MA 5Jan2010

05 january 2011 20:50:39

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