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Sudan Referendum Official Urges Parties to Accept Outcome

A member of the polling staff helps a Southern Sudanese woman to vote at a polling center in the suburb of al-Jereif in Khartoum, Sudan, 14 Jan 2011
A member of the polling staff helps a Southern Sudanese woman to vote at a polling center in the suburb of al-Jereif in Khartoum, Sudan, 14 Jan 2011

The chairman of South Sudan’s Referendum Commission has called on both the governing National Congress Party (NCP) and the Sudan People’s Liberation Movement (SPLM) to accept the outcome of the landmark referendum that will determine the fate of the semi-autonomous south.

Mohammed Ibrahim Khalil told VOA his commission will hold a news conference Monday to thank its international partners, who he said helped ensure a successful referendum.

“You know pretty well what the result is, but we have to comply with the law. So, at the end of the month, we are going to have a meeting in Juba where we will announce the results of the Juba states and also the results of the northern states and the eight countries of the Diaspora. That will be on the 31st (January). On the 2nd of February, we are going to aggregate all these results and announce the overall preliminary results in Khartoum.”

Latest provisional results released by the commission so far show nearly 99 percent of voters supporting south Sudan’s secession from the north.

Khalil said officials of the referendum commission are satisfied with the conduct and the organization of the week-long vote.

“We are inviting the bureau of Juba to come over to Khartoum. We are having the gathering with the international community to thank everybody who participated in the process. The international community, the United Nations and its agencies, the European Union, the USAID, the African Union, IGAD, the Arab Union and a number of other countries all participated. We are inviting them (Monday) in order to thank them,” said chairman Khalil.

“We are also inviting the international observers because we need their testimony. We are also having a press conference. So, that is where we are now.”

The referendum was part of the 2005 peace deal that ended Sudan's north-south civil war. International poll observers have described the week-long vote earlier this month as credible, free and fair.

Officials from northern Sudan have indicated they will accept the results, and south Sudan is expected to declare independence later this year.
However, the two sides still have to work out issues involving borders, waters, oil revenue, and the fate of the oil-producing Abyei region.

Chairman Khalil expressed satisfaction with the organization of the landmark referendum.

“I think the process has been very satisfactory. It has been orderly, it has been peaceful and the people behaved absolutely magnificently. If you watched the rows of people waiting patiently, courteously and in a very orderly (way), and people seemed to know what they were doing,” said Khalil.

“I think I have watched a number of elections in this country (and) I think this has been the most orderly and the most peaceful, the most important.”