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Sudanese Commission Warns Attack Could Undermine Referendum

  • Peter Clottey

Southern Sudanese hold pro-independence banners as they march through the streets of the southern capital Juba, 09 Oct 2010

Southern Sudanese hold pro-independence banners as they march through the streets of the southern capital Juba, 09 Oct 2010

The spokesman for Sudan’s referendum commission has called on the ruling National Congress Party (NCP) and the Sudan People’s Liberation Movement (SPLM) to keep their promise of maintaining peace and security during the voter registration exercise, as well as the 9th January referendum.

George Benjamin also expressed concern that Wednesday’s reported attack on an army base in southern Sudan could prevent prospective voters from going to register for the upcoming referendum.

“Definitely, the people living around that area could be scared and run away and that can impact negatively on the registration process in that location and (those) areas in the vicinity. And, if it is not controlled and it spreads, then that can have serious repercussions on the whole process.”

Philip Aguer, spokesman for the southern Sudanese army, said helicopter gunships from the north attacked a base in the Bahr al-Ghazal region Wednesday. The attack he said wounded four soldiers and two civilians.

Some southern Sudanese also claimed that the attack was aimed to derail the upcoming referendum on independence. But, an official of the Sudanese army rejected the accusation as completely false.

Benjamin warned that both the ongoing voter registration and the referendum could be in jeopardy if violence is not contained.

“The maintenance of security all over the country, and for the purposes of the referendum process, is a duty of the governments. Both the federal government and the government of southern Sudan have committed themselves that they will maintain security during the referendum process, so that the process could go on uninterrupted.”

Benjamin further called on both governments to fulfill their promise to ensure peace and stability in the upcoming referendum.

“If peace is maintained, the commission will appeal to the people in those areas affected to come back and continue (to) register in order to vote next January.”

Meanwhile, the U.N. peacekeeping force in Sudan says it has no information on the reported attack. If confirmed, this would be the second time this month northern Sudanese forces have carried out an airstrike in the south. On 13th November, northern aircraft bombed the south while fighting rebels from Sudan's Darfur region. Northern officials said the bombing was an accident.

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