UN panel reviews preparation for Sudan referendum

New York, US (PANA) - The UN panel tasked with monitoring the forthcoming referendum on the self-determination of Southern
Sudan arrived in Khartoum, the capital, on Saturday to oversee preparations for the voting.

A UN statement on Sunday said that the panel was on its third visit to Sudan since it began work in October.

It said the members were scheduled to hold meetings with senior officials from the Government of Sudan, the Government of Southern Sudan, the Southern Sudan Referendum Commission (SSRC), international and domestic observer groups, as well as diplomats.

"The process of voter registration for the Southern Sudan referendum that just concluded was transparent and largely peaceful and orderly," Benjamin Mkapa, the chair of the panel and former President of Tanzania, was quoted as saying.

He said: "Momentum is building towards the vote on 9 January and preparations remain on course".

"Now we are in the exhibitions and appeals period, which is an important phase in the process, but we hope it can be concluded
speedily and the vote can take place on time in a peaceful and successful manner," Mkapa noted.

The statement said the panel was playing a good role on behalf of Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon to strengthen confidence in the
Sudanese-led referendum process and to encourage the parties and relevant authorities to resolve any significant problems or disputes as they emerge.

The people of Southern Sudan will vote on whether the south should secede from the rest of the country.

The referendum will also determine the final status of Abyei, an oil-rich region.

The referendum was set out in the 2005 Comprehensive Peace Agreement (CPA) which ended two decades of war between the
north and the south.

The UN secretary-general set up the panel after the parties to the CPA requested for a UN monitoring body to help enhance the
credibility of the referendum and ensure the acceptance of their result by their constituencies and the international community.

Other members of the panel are Antonio Monteiro, a former Minister of Foreign Affairs of Portugal, and Bhojraj Pokharel, a former
Chairman of the Election Commission of Nepal.
-0- PANA AA/VAO 19Dec2010

19 december 2010 18:42:25

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