A top official of Sudan’s ruling National Congress Party (NCP) told VOA the creation of a commission to organize southern Sudan’s referendum shows the commitment of the party towards the full implementation of the 2005 Comprehensive Peace Agreement (CPA).
Rabie Abdullati Obeid said President Bashir’s dominant NCP will accept the results of the referendum scheduled for January 2011 in the semi-autonomous southern Sudan.
“The significance of this endorsement and the approval of the parliament for the referendum commission is an indication and signal that both the SPLM (Sudan People’s Liberation Movement) and the National Congress Party are fully committed to implement the CPA by the implementation of the referendum in the beginning of the coming year in 2011,” he said.
The referendum scheduled for next year is an integral part of the 2005 CPA signed between the north and the south of Sudan ending over two decades of civil war.
Obeid also said the referendum commission will, among others things, focus on implementing all the mandates mentioned in the CPA such as the demarcation of borders between the north and the south, as well as settle the problem of nationality (of resident in the north and south).
After several months of disagreements over its composition, Sudan’s parliament Monday appointed a former speaker of the legislative body to lead the commission that will organize next year’s referendum in the south.
Mohamed Ibrahim Khalil, who is also a law professor, will lead the commission that analysts say will need to resolve the issues of ownership of land in the south, the distribution of oil revenue and possible tensions if residents in the south choose to secede.
The referendum will allow residents in the south to choose whether to be part of Sudan or secede and become an independent nation.
NCP official Obeid said President Bashir and his unity government will continue to work to make Sudan’s unity attractive to residents in the south as stipulated in the CPA in spite of the possibility that the southerners will secede.
“As you know, that is the preamble of the introduction of the CPA. It was mentioned clearly that both parties, the SPLM and the NCP, should work seriously and hard to make unity attractive. But…this is an option already given to southerners to decide, both parties should accept (it) according to this CPA. And, I don’t think there is any objection from NCP for the results of the referendum whether this result is unity or secession,” Obeid said.
The SPLM has often accused the NCP of fomenting trouble in the south to undermine next year’s referendum.
Yasir Arman, SPLM Deputy Secretary General- Secretary, said the NCP is hindering the south’s secession process "through technical ways," a charge President Bashir’s party sharply denies.
NCP official Obeid also called for transparency in the upcoming referendum.
“We should ensure about the transparency and the fairness (of the referendum). Also, the observers who will come and monitor the referendum should perform their work and observation with the transparent way and methodology,” Obeid said.