UN neutral in next year's southern Sudan referendum, says Ban

New York- US (PANA) -- The United Nations has taken no position on next year's re ferendum on independence for southern Sudan, UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon ha s said.
In a statement issued on Wednesday, Ban also refuted a recent media report, whic h said that the organisation has taken a position on the referendum.
"The secretary-general made clear that the United Nations would work to support the parties in their efforts to 'make unity attractive' as well as the exercise b y the people of Southern Sudan of their right to self-determination in a referen d um," it stated.
The UN chief also stressed that the world body will endeavour to avoid any "pote ntial negative consequences" following the referendum.
"Any suggestion that the United Nations may have taken a position that may pre-j udge the outcome of such a referendum is incorrect," the statement said.
PANA reported that next year's vote is among the key milestones of the 2005 Comp rehensive Peace Agreement (CPA), the pact between the National Congress Party (N C P) and the Sudan People's Liberation Movement (SPLM) that ended the long-running north-south civil war.
Nearly 17 million people across the country are estimated to register to vote in elections in April, the first multi-party democratic ballot for decades.
On top of the referendum on Southern Sudan, next year will also witness a refere ndum on the future of the disputed oil-rich area of Abyei.
Last year, the Permanent Court of Arbitration in The Hague shifted some of the b orders of Abyei, leaving control of the Heglig oil field with the national gover n ment in Khartoum, the Sudanese capital.
Last weekend, the UN Secretary-General told the AU summit in Addis Ababa, Ethiop ia, that "time is of the essence" for Sudan in light of the elections and refere n da scheduled in the near future.

03 february 2010 16:36:00




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