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Khartoum Appears Ready to Accept Referendum Result

South Sudan's Presidenr, Salva Kiir votes (file)

The head of Sudan’s governing National Congress Party’s delegation to the permanent court of arbitration said his party is committed to living peacefully with a newly-independent south Sudan if southerners choose secession over unity.

Ambassador Dirdiery Mohamed Ahmed, who is also a member of the NCP negotiating team with the Sudan People’s Liberation Movement (SPLM), said his party will live up to its commitment of respecting the outcome of the referendum.

“The NCP is very much encouraged about the peaceful beginning of the referendum. The voting has been, in fact, very successful throughout the country. The turnout was very much encouraging and we think that, if this trend continues, we will see a very peaceful and successful referendum process,” he said.

Over three-million registered southern Sudanese began voting Sunday in a referendum that will determine if the semi-autonomous south secedes and becomes an independent nation.

Voting appeared to be proceeding smoothly, although officials reported clashes between Misseriya and Ngok Dinka tribesmen in the disputed, oil-producing Abyei region. Early reports say several people may have been killed.

U.S. President Barack Obama said in a statement Sunday that he is

“extremely pleased” the voting has started. He said the international community is determined that all parties in Sudan live up to their obligations.

Observers have expressed concern that there is a need to quickly resolve the outstanding issues between the NCP and the SPLM in order to ensure peace and stability after the referendum.

“We have the border issue...which has to be agreed upon; we are having also the citizenship issue and whether the southern Sudanese will be voting for secession will still be enjoying the nationality of the Sudan, or they will be having their own nationality in the south,” said Ahmed.

“As the NCP meets, will we also continue sharing the oil revenues as per the old formula, or are we going to agree on a new formula, having in mind that most of the oil is produced in the south, but is now exported through the pipelines and refineries that are installed in the north.”

Ambassador Ahmed also said the NCP is encouraged with the “peaceful nature” of the referendum.