New York- US (PANA) -- Twenty-four hours after returning from a visit to Sudan, m embers of the UN Security Council on Thursday, in New York, US, called for 'time l y and credible' conduct of the two referendums on self-determination, slated for January in Sudan.
The council also stressed the need to ensure that the exercise was carried out i n line with the 2005 peace pact that ended the long-running north-south civil wa r .
"The purpose of our visit was to underscore that the UN Security Council is unit ed in its desire to see Sudanâ?s referendum on self-determination carried out in accordance with the Comprehensive Peace Agreem ent,â? Ambassador Susan Rice of the US, who led the southern Sudan-leg of the mi ssion, told a meeting of the council.
She said: â?We delivered the message that the referendum should be held on time , that they should be credible, and that the results must be respected.
"In addition to expressing support for the referendum, the visit was also intend ed to assess the status of preparations for the polls, as well as the efforts of the UN Mission in Sudan (UNMIS) to support CPA implementation.
" During the trip, the Councilâ?s members visited Darfur where they met with seni or officials from the joint UN-African Union peacekeeping force (UNAMID), as wel l as with internally displaced persons (IDPs) and representatives of UN agencies a nd NGOs in the strife-torn region.
The ongoing insecurity in Darfur and restrictions on humanitarian access were so me of the main issues discussed during the trip, according to Ambassador Mark Ly a ll Grant of the United Kingdom.
â?We returned with deep concerns about the security situation in Darfur and its impact on civilians, and about the continuing restrictions on access by UNAMID a nd humanitarian workers,â? he said.
PANA recalled that the UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon had appointed a three-me mber UN panel to monitor the referendum, at the request of the Sudanese governme n t.
The group is currently on a week-long visit to the country that includes stops i n Khartoum, Juba, the capital of Southern Sudan, and Abyei.
At its meeting with Sudanese President Omar Al-Bashir on Thursday, the panelâ?s chair, Benjamin Mkapa, said that his team had been assured by both parties to t h e CPA of peaceful and successful referendum process.
He stressed that while there was much ground to cover before the referendum on 9 January, â?the hurdles are not insurmountable.
"I believe the leadership is honourable, willing and very capable of guiding thi s process to a successful conclusion.
" On 9 January, southern Sudanese will vote on whether to secede from the rest of the country, while the residents of the central area of Abyei will vote on wheth e r to be part of the north or the south.
The referendum will be the final phase in the implementation of the CPA, signed in 2005 to end two decades of conflict between the northern-based Government and the Sudan Peopleâ?s Liberation Movement/Army (SPLM/A) in the south.
Meanwhile, the UN Humanitarian Coordinator in Sudan, Georg Charpentier, has expr essed concern by limitations on humanitarian access in the region, citing intens i fied fighting in parts of Eastern Jebel Marra in Darfur, as reason for the limit e d access.