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

Disappointing Report on China's Economy Shakes Markets

In London and New York shares lost 3 percent, while Paris and Germany dropped around 2.4 percent More

DRC Tries Mega-Farms to Feed Population

Park at Boukanga Lonzo currently has 5,000 hectares under cultivation, crops stretching as far as eye can see, and is start of ambitious large-scale agriculture plan More

Video War, Drought Threaten Iraq's Marshlands

Areas are spawning ground for Gulf fisheries, a resting place for migrating wildfowl, source of livelihood for fishermen and herders who have called the marshes home for generations More

This forum has been closed.
Comments
     
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.
Nobel Prize Winner Malala Talks to VOAi
X
August 31, 2015 2:17 AM
Nobel Peace Prize winner Malala Yousafzai met with VOA's Deewa service in Washington Sunday to talk about women’s rights and unveil a trailer for her new documentary. VOA's Katherine Gypson has more.
Video

Video Nobel Prize Winner Malala Talks to VOA

Nobel Peace Prize winner Malala Yousafzai met with VOA's Deewa service in Washington Sunday to talk about women’s rights and unveil a trailer for her new documentary. VOA's Katherine Gypson has more.
Video

Video War, Drought Threaten Iraq's Marshlands

Iraq's southern wetlands are in crisis. These areas are the spawning ground for Gulf fisheries, a resting place for migrating wildfowl, and source of livelihood for fishermen and herders. Faith Lapidus has more.
Video

Video Colombians Flee Venezuela as Border Crisis Escalates

Hundreds of Colombians have fled Venezuela since last week, amid an escalating border crisis between the two countries. Last week, Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro ordered the closure of a key border crossing after smugglers injured three Venezuelan soldiers and a civilian. The president also ordered the deportation of Colombians who are in Venezuela illegally. Zlatica Hoke reports.
Video

Video Rebuilding New Orleans' Music Scene

Ten years after Hurricane Katrina inundated New Orleans, threatening to wash away its vibrant musical heritage along with its neighborhoods, the beat goes on. As Bronwyn Benito and Faith Lapidus report, a Musicians' Village is preserving the city's unique sound.
Video

Video In Russia, Auto Industry in Tailspin

Industry insiders say country relies too heavily on imports as inflation cuts too many consumers out of the market. Daniel Schearf has more from Moscow.
Video

Video Scientist Calls Use of Fetal Tissue in Medical Research Essential

An anti-abortion group responsible for secret recordings of workers at a women's health care organization claims the workers shown are offering baby parts for sale, a charge the organization strongly denies. While the selling of fetal tissue is against the law in the United States, abortion and the use of donated fetal tissue for medical research are both legal. VOA’s Julie Taboh reports.
Video

Video Next to Iran, Climate at Forefront of Obama Agenda

President Barack Obama this week announced new initiatives aimed at making it easier for Americans to access renewable energy sources such as solar and wind. Obama is not slowing down when it comes to pushing through climate change measures, an issue he says is the greatest threat to the country’s national security. VOA correspondent Aru Pande has more from the White House.
Video

Video Arctic Draws International Competition for Oil

A new geopolitical “Great Game” is underway in earth’s northernmost region, the Arctic, where Russia has claimed a large area for resource development and President Barack Obama recently approved Shell Oil Company’s test-drilling project in an area under U.S. control. Greg Flakus reports.
Video

Video Philippine Maritime Police: Chinese Fishermen a Threat to Country’s Security

China and the Philippines both claim maritime rights in the South China Sea.  That includes the right to fish in those waters. Jason Strother reports on how the Philippines is catching Chinese nationals it says are illegal poachers. He has the story from Palawan province.
Video

Video China's Spratly Island Building Said to Light Up the Night 'Like A City'

Southeast Asian countries claim China has illegally seized territory in the Spratly islands. It is especially a concern for a Philippine mayor who says Beijing is occupying parts of his municipality. Jason Strother reports from the capital of Palawan province, Puerto Princesa.
Video

Video Ages-old Ice Reveals Secrets of Climate Change

Ice caps don't just exist at the world's poles. There are also tropical ice caps, and the largest sits atop the Peruvian Andes - but it is melting, quickly, and may be gone within the next 20 years. George Putic reports scientists are now rushing to take samples to get at the valuable information about climate change locked in the ice.

VOA Blogs