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Sudan’s Government Committed to Keeping the Country Unified

  • Peter Clottey

A leading member of Sudan’s ruling National Congress Party told VOA President Omar Hassan al-Bashir’s newly formed unity government is seeking to the keep the country whole during implementation of the 2005 Comprehensive Peace Agreement (CPA).

Rabie Abdulatti Obeid also said the government is preparing for the semi-autonomous South Sudan’s referendum scheduled for January 2011.

“The formation of this new government [will] target the unity of the country, and the main and major function of this government will be the preparation and arrangement for the referendum. Also, they will work very hard with other political institutions to achieve unity and make unity attractive,” he said.

The referendum will allow residents of southern Sudan to decide whether to remain part of Sudan or become an independent nation.

Last May, President Bashir agreed with first Vice President Salva Kiir to form a referendum commission to organize what analysts say will be a landmark vote that could determine whether the semi-autonomous South Sudan secedes.

But, NCP official Obeid said the country’s unity will be the priority of the new government.

“We are now waiting for the program of unity, which will be adopted by this government,” Obeid said.

Despite a reported 15-day delay, President Bashir announced the formation of his administration largely dominated by members of his ruling NCP. He, however, included a handful of ministers from the southern Sudan People’s Liberation Movement (SPLM) in the newly formed government.

According to Sudan’s media, the administration comprises 22 members of the NCP in the new Cabinet, eight from the SPLM, three portfolios for other southern Sudanese parties and three others for northern Sudanese parties that participated in the general elections.

But, critics say President Bashir failed to keep his promise of including more opposition parties in the government – a charge Obeid denies.

“There [were] a lot of discussions and negotiations with the UMMA party led by al-Sadiq al-Mahdi, the former vice president. Also, there were a lot of negotiations with the Democratic Party also who came this morning and I think that still there are negotiations going on,” Obeid said.

The Comprehensive Peace Agreement (CPA) signed between President Bashir’s government and the SPLM effectively ended Sudan’s civil war. Over two million Sudanese reportedly died during the war which lasted for more than two decades.

Meanwhile, Sudan’s new foreign minister, Ali Karti, has warned that any dispute over the results of next year’s referendum on southern Sudan’s independence could plunge the entire country into another round of war.

Karti was quoted as saying, “It will be a difficult and tough war, different from the previous one because both sides are better equipped militarily.”