News / Africa

Sudanese Leaders Pledge All Efforts for Successful Referendum

Key leaders of north and south Sudan promised Friday to ensure that next January's planned referendum on independence for the southern region will go forward peacefully and on time. The pledges came at a meeting at the United Nations attended by world leaders, including U.S. President Barack Obama.

Mr. Obama's presence at the U.N meeting underscored the deep concern in Washington that Sudan's north-south peace process will derail unless the referendum goes ahead as planned without violence.

A six-year Sudan peace plan reaches a climax in January when the autonomous southern region votes on independence, and the oil-rich central Abiyeh region decides whether it will join the south.

Preparations for the voting, including delineation of a prospective north-south border, are far behind schedule.

In remarks to the meeting, President Obama said the Sudanese parties are at a critical juncture and the stakes are enormous. "At this moment, the fate of millions of people hangs in the balance. What happens in Sudan in the days ahead will decide whether a people who have endured too much war move toward peace of slip backward into bloodshed. And what happens in Sudan matters to all of sub-Saharan Africa and it matters to the world," he said.

U.S. diplomacy toward Sudan has been complicated by the the Darfur conflict in western Sudan, which has led to international war crimes charges against Sudanese President Omar al-Bashir.

The United States shuns direct contact with the Sudanese leader and accuses him of foot-dragging on the referendum. Mr. Obama made clear that the future of U.S.-Sudan relations depends not only on a successful referendum but accountability for Darfur crimes. "Now is the moment for all nations to send a strong signal that there will be not time and tolerance for spoilers who refuse to engage in peace talks. Indeed there can be no lasting peace in Darfur, and no normalization of relations between Sudan and the United States, without accountability for crimes that have been committed," he said.

Sudanese Vice President Ali Osman Taha, who spoke for the National Congress Party leadership, complained of the demonization of President Bashir, and said his contributions to the north-south peace process have been critical.

Taha said the mainly-Muslim Khartoum government prefers a referendum outcome that preserves Sudan's unity, but is prepared to accept the separation of the mostly-Christian and animist south. "I would like to recall before you here the determination and willingness of our government, particularly its leader, President Bashir, to make the difficult decisions without which peace was unattainable - the most of important of which is  accepting the risk of relinquishing a cherished part of your history and future, and a valued part of your country," he said.

Southern Sudanese leader Salva Kiir, first vice president in the Khartoum unity government, said the northern authorities have not made unity an attractive option, and that all signs point to a secession vote.

If that occurs, he said the south is ready to work with Khartoum authorities for long-term peace and stability. "We are genuinely willing to negotiate with our brothers in the National Congress Party, and we're prepared to work in a spirit of partnership to create  peaceful and sustainable good relations between the north and southern Sudan for the long-term after the referendum. It is in our interest to see to it that northern Sudan remains a viable state, just as it should be in the interests of the north to see southern Sudan emerge also as a viable state," he said.

The north-south civil war was Africa's longest running conflict until it came to an end with the 2005 Comprehensive Peace Accord or CPA. It  is believed to have killed nearly two million people while displacing  millions more.

The CPA provided for the coalition government in Khartoum and six years of autonomy for the south, to be capped by the January 9, 2011 referendum.

You May Like

Video Russia’s Syrian Escalation Tests Obama’s Crisis Response

Critics once again question whether president has been slow to act on Syrian conflict, thus creating opening for powers like Russia More

Ancient African DNA Shows Mass Migration Back Into Africa

First genetic analysis of ancient human remains in Africa suggests massive migration from north around time of Egyptian empire More

NASA: Pluto Has Blue Sky

New photos also reveal the presence of water ice More

This forum has been closed.
There are no comments in this forum. Be first and add one

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Hungary Criticized for Handling of Refugeesi
Henry Ridgwell
October 08, 2015 8:02 PM
Amnesty International has accused Hungary of breaking multiple international and European human rights laws in its handling of the refugee crisis. As Henry Ridgwell reports, thousands of migrants and refugees continue to travel through the Balkans to Hungary every day.

Video Hungary Criticized for Handling of Refugees

Amnesty International has accused Hungary of breaking multiple international and European human rights laws in its handling of the refugee crisis. As Henry Ridgwell reports, thousands of migrants and refugees continue to travel through the Balkans to Hungary every day.

Video Iraqi-Kurdish Teachers Vow to Continue Protest

Sixteen people were injured when police used tear gas and rubber bullets to disperse teachers and other public employees who took to the streets in Iraq’s Kurdish north, demanding their salaries from the Kurdish Regional Government (KRG). VOA’s Dilshad Anwar, in Sulaimaniya, caught up with protesting teachers who say they have not been paid for three months. Parke Brewer narrates his report.

Video Syrian Village Community Faces Double Displacement in Lebanon

Driven by war from their village in southwestern Syria, a group of families found shelter in Lebanon, resettling en masse in a half-built university to form one of the biggest settlements of its kind in Lebanon. Three years later, however, they now face being kicked out and dispersed in a country where finding shelter as a refugee can be especially tough. John Owens has more for VOA from the city of Saida, also known as Sidon.

Video Bat Colony: Unusual Tourist Attraction in Texas

The action hero Batman might be everyone’s favorite but real bats hardly get that kind of adoration. Put more than a million of these creatures of the night together and it only evokes images of horror. Sarah Zaman visited the largest urban bat colony in North America to see just how well bat and human get along with each other.

Video Device Shows Promise of Stopping Motion Sickness

It’s a sickening feeling — the dizziness, nausea and vomiting that comes with motion sickness. But a device now being developed could stop motion sickness by suppressing certain signals in the brain. VOA’s Deborah Block reports.

Video Making a Mint

While apples, corn, and cranberries top the list of fall produce in the US, it’s also the time to harvest gum, candy, and toothpaste—or at least the oil that makes them minty fresh. Erika Celeste reports from South Bend, Indiana on the mint harvest.

Video Activists Decry Lagos Slum Demolition

Acting on a court order, authorities in Nigeria demolished a slum last month in the commercial capital, Lagos. But human rights activists say the order was illegal, and the community was razed to make way for a government housing project. Chris Stein has more from Lagos.

Video TPP Agreed, But Faces Stiff Opposition

President Barack Obama promoted the Trans-Pacific Partnership on Tuesday, one day after 12 Pacific Rim nations reached the free trade deal in Atlanta. The controversial pact that would involve about 40 percent of global trade still needs approval by lawmakers in respective countries. Zlatica Hoke reports Obama is facing strong opposition to the deal, including from members of his own party.

Video Ukranian Artist Portrays Putin in an Unusual Way

As Russian President Vladimir Putin was addressing the United Nations in New York last month, he was also being featured in an art exhibition in Washington. It’s not a flattering exhibit. It’s done by a Ukrainian artist in a unique medium. And its creator says it’s not only a work of art - it’s a political statement. VOA’s Tetiana Kharchenko has more.

Video Nano-tech Filter Cleans Dirty Water

Access to clean water is a problem for hundreds of millions of people around the world. Now, a scientist and chemical engineer in Tanzania (in East Africa) is working to change that by creating an innovative water filter that makes dirty water safe. VOA’s Deborah Block has the story.

Video Demand Rising for Organic Produce in Cambodia

In Cambodia, where rice has long been the main cash crop, farmers are being encouraged to turn to vegetables to satisfy the growing demand for locally produced organic farm products. Daniel de Carteret has more from Phnom Penh.

Video Botanists Grow Furniture, with Pruning Shears

For something a bit out of the ordinary to furnish your home, why not consider wooden chairs, crafted by nature, with a little help from some British botanists with an eye for design. VOA’s Jessica Berman reports.

VOA Blogs