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Sudan's President Committed to Holding Referendum on Time

Sudanese President Omar al-Bashir says the referendum on southern Sudan's independence will take place on time.

The vote is scheduled for January 9 of next year and could split the east African country in two.

North-south divisions within the committee responsible for planning the vote have stalled the arrangements. Southern officials strongly oppose any delay in the referendum.

The Sudanese president reaffirmed Friday that his government is committed to holding the referendum on the scheduled date.

The January 2011 referendum is a key component of the Comprehensive Peace Agreement between the former rebel southern Sudan People's Liberation Movement and the ruling National Congress Party. The 2005 peace accord ended Africa's longest civil war.

The U.S. envoy to Sudan, Scott Gration, arrived in the country earlier this week for talks with Sudanese leaders on the peace agreement and preparations for the independence vote.

Much of Sudan's oil wealth is believed to lie along the disputed border between the north and south. The oil-rich Abyei region will hold a separate referendum January 9 to decide which side it will join.

Some information for this report was provided by AP and AFP.