UN officials task Sudanese on referendum

New York- US (PANA) -- UN top officials on Monday said that the next few months would be crucial for Sudan as it prepared to hold two referendums on self-determination in January.
They also urged all parties to redouble their efforts to ensure that the polls were held on time, were free, fair and credible.
"This peace process is unique in the history of the Sudan and the next few months will be critical for safeguarding the achievements made since the signing of the Comprehensive Peace Agreement," UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon said in his latest report on Sudan to the Security Council on Sudan.
He stated that as the Comprehensive Peace Agreement deadline for the referendum approached, public anticipation and anxiety were building up at an accelerated pace.
The events of the next three months will have a profound impact on the future of the Sudan," he wrote.
He said the stakes were "undeniably high", as failure to meet the deadline for the referendum prescribed by the Comprehensive Peace Agreement could have severe consequences.
"Notwithstanding the progress made so far, it is imperative that the parties to the agreement and all relevant authorities redouble their efforts to ensure that they successfully meet the deadline.
" The secretary-general also noted that while international partners were eager and ready to support and assist the Sudanese people through this last phase of implementation of the CPA and beyond, it was, and must continue to be, a fundamentally Sudanese effort.
"International contributions have been important and will continue to be so long after the referendum, but only the political will of the Sudanese themselves can drive this process forward.
"As such, it is the parties to the agreement that have the primary responsibility to ensure its success.
There is no time left for political confrontation and stalemates.
" In his address to the Security Council, UN Under Secretary-General for Peacekeeping Operations, Alain Le Roy said that there had been "palpable progress" in the preparations for the southern Sudan referendum.
He also said that there was a lack of progress on the Abyei referendum, for which a referendum commission had still not been set up.
He stressed that it was essential that the parties reached agreement, noting that a lack of progress was exacerbating tensions on the ground.
Le Roy recalled that during the Council's recent mission to Sudan, Southern Su dan President Salva Kiir warned of the serious risk of violence during the referendum and urged the creation of a buffer zone between north and south.
"We are currently considering a number of possible options to increase UNMIS' (UN Mission in Sudan) presence in high-risk zones along the border, especially traditional migration zones or (zones) where population movements could take place," he said.
Le Roy said It remained important to recognise that an increase in the number of troops would not enable UNMIS to prevent or to contain a clash between the two armies.
"Our best possible tool against a return to war remains our commitment in favo ur of a political agreement," the UN official said.
Le Roy added that as the attention of the international community increasingly turned to the impending referendum, it was important not to lose focus of the acute challenges remaining in Darfur.
During the reporting period, he said, incidents of banditry, car-jacking, ambushes and abductions of UN staff and humanitarian workers continued in the strife-torn Darfur region.
In his recent report to the Council on the joint UN-African Union Mission in Darfur (UNAMID), Ban noted that clashes between government and rebel forces had destabilized some areas of the region, caused new displacements and impeded the delivery of humanitarian aid.
"I call upon all belligerents to cease hostilities and join the peace process for the sake of the people they claim to represent," the UN chief said.
On 9 January the inhabitants of southern Sudan will vote on whether to secede from the rest of the country, while the residents of the central area of Abyei will vote on whether they want to be part of the north or the south.
The referendum will be the final phase in the implementation of the Comprehensive Peace Agreement (CPA), which was signed in 2005 to end two decades of conflict between the northern-based government and the Sudan People's Liberation Movemen t/Army (SPLM/A) in the south.
The secretary-general has set up a three-member UN panel to monitor the referendum, at the request of the Sudanese government.
In addition, UNMIS is providing technical, logistical and other assistance for t he preparations for the referendum.

25 october 2010 21:23:00

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