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Ruling Party Warns Against Secession Advocacy Ahead of Sudan Referendum

  • Peter Clottey

A prominent member of Sudan’s ruling National Congress Party (NCP) said any campaign or promotion of south Sudan’s secession contravenes the 2005 Comprehensive Peace Agreement (CPA), as well as the country’s interim constitution.

Rabie Abdulatti Obeid says President Omar Hassan al-Bashir’s government will not allow political parties or individuals to flagrantly flout stipulations of the peace accord as campaigning begins ahead of the semi-autonomous south Sudan’s referendum, scheduled for January 9.

“[According to the CPA], all partners in the government of national unity and the two parties [that] signed this peace agreement should work together up to the date of the referendum to make unity attractive. The NCP now is working hard to establish institutions and non-governmental organizations to call for unity,” he said.

He also said that the government will continue to encourage residents in the south about the benefits of Sudan’s unity warning that President Bashir’s administration will not accept individuals or groups to advocate for south Sudan’s secession.

This comes after protesters, who support “Sudan’s unity,” held rallies Tuesday in the capital, Khartoum, as campaigning began ahead of south Sudan’s referendum.

Khartoum State Students' General Union reportedly presented a petition to Sudan’s parliament Tuesday calling on legislators to ensure that the country’s unity is attractive to residents in the south ahead of the upcoming vote.

Local media reports that religious leaders, Christian as well as Islamic, have formed a coalition with the aim of encouraging residents in the semi-autonomous south about the need to secede and become an independent nation.

Backed by the African Union, the NCP is currently holding talks with the Sudan People’s Liberation Movement (SPLM) to resolve anticipated challenges of nationality and wealth sharing, if residents in the south choose to secede.

NCP official Obeid said the ongoing talks are necessary.

“Actually, the post referendum arrangement, this is mentioned in the CPA and the interim constitution that both partners should agree together to [create] technical committees to settle such issues like nationality and the owner of land in the south and north,” Obeid said.

The CPA ended over two decades of war between President Bashir’s national army and the south-based Sudan People’s Liberation Army (SPLA).

Meanwhile, recent polls in the south ahead of the referendum show an overwhelming majority of residents in the south will choose to secede and become an independent nation rather than remain part of a unified Sudan.

NCP official Obeid said both the NCP and the SPLM will only accept the results of the referendum if it was credible and without interference.

“I’m sure that, if the referendum is transparent without any fraud without any intervention from [both] the SPLM and NCP, the results will be recognized by SPLM and by NCP. But, in case that the two partners do not agree about the technical regulations about the referendum or the post period arrangement in case of secession, this would be a problem,” Obeid said.