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NGO Official Warns Disputes Could Undermine Sudan Referendum

A Sudanese opposition supporter shouts slogans as protesters wave the flag of Sudan People's Liberation Movement (SPLM) during a demonstration against the government in Khartoum, 07 Dec 2009

An official of the International Crisis Group, a non-governmental organization (ICG), has warned that the ongoing accusations and counter accusations between the Sudan’s ruling National Congress Party (NCP) and the Sudan People’s Liberation Movement (SPLM) could endanger the scheduled 9th January referendum.

Foaud Hikmat, the ICG’s special Sudan advisor, said the NCP and SPLM need to remember that the responsibility of fully implementing the 2005 Comprehensive Peace Agreement rests on both parties.

“Since the inception of the CPA in January 2005, indeed they managed to achieve a lot. And, in the configuration of the CPA, there are certain mechanisms that are supposed to resolve issues. (But), unfortunately, before the elections, and up to now, these mechanisms did not make breakthroughs in many issues which necessitated the intervention of external bodies, or organs, or countries, to try to support the two parties.”

Officials of the SPLM have accused the ruling NCP of not making unity attractive to residents in the semi-autonomous south Sudan.

The NCP has countered that the SPLM is flouting the CPA after Mr. Salva Kiir, Sudan’s first Vice President and President of South Sudan, said he will vote for secession.

Hikmat said mechanisms in the CPA aimed at resolving conflicts seem to have broken down forcing international guarantors to help resolve disagreements between the SPLM and the NCP.

“Lately, the U.S. stepped (up) its engagement and tried to bring the two parties (together) to resolve the remaining issues. And, since the SPLM always thought that the NCP is the one that always impedes the implementation of the CPA, (it) is trying to make these external actors to understand that it is not them that are impeding the implementation of the CPA, but it is the NCP.”

Hikmat also said President Omar Hassan Al-Bashir’s ruling NCP has accused the SPLM of not playing its full role as required by the CPA, which calls for both parties to work together to make unity attractive to residents in south Sudan.

As part of the CPA, the residents of south Sudan have less than 80 days to vote in a referendum to decide whether they want to be part of the north or secede and become an independent country.