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International Community Urged to Fund South Sudan Referendum

  • Peter Clottey

Sudanese President Omar al-Bashir delivers a speech during his swearing-in ceremony at the parliament in Khartoum, 27 May 2010 (file)

Sudanese President Omar al-Bashir delivers a speech during his swearing-in ceremony at the parliament in Khartoum, 27 May 2010 (file)

A former south Sudan envoy to Kenya has urged the international community to expedite the disbursement of promised funds to help with the organization of the scheduled 9th January referendum next year.

Ambassador John Andruga Duku, who is also the international chief coordinator for south Sudan’s referendum, says Sudan’s referendum commission has delayed a much-needed voter education exercise to adequately prepare residents ahead of the election.

“I’m in Brussels leading a campaign urging the Europeans to support civic education because, as of today, we are left with only 123 days for the referendum on south Sudan, [that is] less than 3000 hours left. This is a very critical time,” he said.

He also warned that the credibility of the election could be compromised if a majority of south Sudan residents do not understand the voting process.

The January vote forms part of the Comprehensive Peace Agreement that allows residents in the south to choose whether to secede or remain part of Sudan.

Ambassador Duku urged the international community to help fund the referendum.

“I spoke to the Europeans that [a] promise of funds alone, without implementing it, will defeat the people of south Sudan [and] it will even defeat the purpose. In the same way, [the] United States of America announced to the whole world they have pledged $ 60 million for referendum activities. [But], we have not seen a dime of that $60 million,” Duku said.

He said, so far, only Japan has provided $8.1 million to the U.N. Development Program (UNDP) to help fund the world body’s activities in south Sudan.

Some residents in the south have often accused the dominant National Congress Party (NCP) of undermining efforts of the referendum commission to delay the January vote. But, the NCP has rejected the accusation saying it is committed to fully implementing the rest of the provisions of the CPA, including the referendum.

Ambassador Duku expressed concern that the referendum commission has done very little to inspire confidence in its ability to successfully organize the January vote.

He also warned that failure of the referendum to proceed as originally planned could potentially “drag the entire country into yet another civil war.”

He urged the international community to put pressure on Khartoum to ensure the January vote is not hampered.

“We are calling on the government of Kenya, as the chair of IGAD [Intergovernmental Authority on Development] subcommittee on Sudan, to call for [an] extraordinary summit of IGAD immediately, so that the issues remaining, which are stonewalling the process of the referendum, are put on the table,” he said.

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