A former envoy of the government of south Sudan has called on the international community to put pressure on President Omar Hassan al-Bashir’s government to stop “manipulating” the chairman of the referendum commission, Mohamed Ibrahim Khalil.
Ambassador John Andruga Duku told VOA recent developments, including the controversy surrounding the printing of the ballot papers for the 9th January referendum, show that the ruling National Congress Party wants to delay, as well as derail, the “self determination vote.”
Duku’s comments came after the referendum commission announced it would reopen bidding on the printing of ballot papers for the January vote on southern independence.
Ambassador Duku said President Bashir’s NCP is determined to undermine the credibility of the January vote by insisting that a printing company from the north be used to print ballot papers for the referendum.
“The National Congress Party is using all kinds of delay tactics for this [referendum]. So, we are appealing to the international community to put pressure on Khartoum, especially the National Congress Party, as well as Professor Ibrahim Khalil,” said Duku.
“Ibrahim Khalil should not allow himself [to be] pressured by the National Congress Party because there is no justification whatsoever to reopen the bidding because the National Congress Party wants its company to print these ballot papers again.”
“The credibility of the referendum is so critical that we do not trust any company, whether from the south or from the north, because any company from south Sudan given that contract to print the ballot paper, the political parties in the north, including the National Congress Party, will question the credibility of that company.”
In the April general elections, the use of the national currency printing company caused a great deal of controversy. The requirements for bidding were changed to make it easier for Sudanese companies to bid for the contract.
The requests for bids required companies to have $1 million in reserves and an international reputation for producing ballots.
Justice Chan Reec, chairman of the southern referendum bureau, said the bidding on the contract was extended to December 5, but added that delays in printing should not lead to a delay in the much-anticipated referendum.