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Sudan Ruling Party Official says Dialogue Key to Successful Referendum

  • Peter Clottey

If the January referendum does take place, it will have little impact on the conflict in Darfur, in western Sudan, which has been in a lull.

A prominent member of Sudan’s ruling National Congress Party (NCP) has called for more dialogue between supporters in favor of the country’s “unity” and supporters of south Sudan’s secession ahead of the scheduled 9th January referendum.

Professor Ibrahim Ghandour, a former vice chancellor of the University of Khartoum, told VOA the much-feared violence in the run up to the scheduled referendum could be avoided through dialogue and strong partnership between his party and the Sudan People’s Liberation Movement (SPLM).

“Separationists from north and south advocated their point of view, as well as unionists from north and south also advocated their point of view. And, we had comments from the SPLM, as well as comments from the NCP, which I represented in that meeting.”

Both the NCP and the south Sudan’s SPLM have been engaged in discussions to help avoid violence in the run up to south Sudan’s referendum.

Some supporters of the SPLM have accused the NCP of undermining efforts to organize next year’s referendum, a charge Ghandour denies.

“We work hard to support the commission in order to execute the referendum on time, and we hope that it will take place. As you know, this was our position during the interim period since the signing of the CPA (Comprehensive Peace Agreement). We’ve always been keen to have and implement of each item of the CPA on time.”

The referendum commission has said it will start registering voters next month in preparation of the January vote.

But, some civil society groups have accused the commission of delaying the registration process contrary to a referendum law passed by Sudan’s National Assembly last December. According to the law, the initial voters register was scheduled to be completed before the end of August.

But, sharp disagreements over which party appoints someone to the position of the secretary-general stalled commission activities ahead of the January vote.

Ghandour said both the NCP and the SPLM continue to work closely to ensure the referendum proceeds as originally scheduled.

“I think with the support of the international community and the political commitment from the two partners, the SPLM and NCP, the referendum will take place on time.”