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Unresolved Issues Will Render Referendum 'Illegimate' Warns Sudan Party Official

Sudanese President Omar al-Bashir, Khartoum, 20 Dec 2010
Sudanese President Omar al-Bashir, Khartoum, 20 Dec 2010

A senior member of Sudan’s governing National Congress Party (NCP) said failure to resolve all outstanding issues before the 9th January referendum will render the outcome of the vote, in his word, “illegitimate,” if southern Sudanese choose secession over unity.

Rabie Abdelati Obeid told VOA a decision by southerners to choose to become independent rather than be part of the north will only be “political secession” and would not have any impact on the ground.

“According to the CPA (Comprehensive Peace Agreement) and according to the Referendum Act, the steps pre-referendum should be performed and agreed upon by the two partners, (but) these were not done. The post-arrangement has also not been completed like the demarcation of borders and the Abyei problem and how to share the (oil) wealth,” said Obeid.

“This is very important because, if there is secession, what will be the basis? What is the border of the new state? How will this new state run the country without (any) income? And there are still a lot of conflicts in the south. This will create a lot of trouble in the area and disturbances to the new state.”

Obeid also accused the Sudan People’s Liberation Movement (SPLM) of “deliberately” stalling negotiations aimed at resolving outstanding issues in the run-up to the referendum.

But, supporters of the SPLM have accused the NCP of violating provisions of the CPA and undermining efforts to resolve the outstanding issues such as border demarcation and the dispute surrounding the oil-rich Abyei region.

Obeid said the SPLM violated provisions of the CPA by signing what he described as confidential agreements with the U.S. government. He said the referendum is not going to be held on what he calls a “solid foundation,” which he said will undermine its credibility.

“The Referendum Act stipulated that all these steps should be carried out before (the) referendum so that, whenever the referendum is conducted and the results (come out), then both north and south will view this result positively. But, if all these steps are not made, how will we deal with this condition?” asked Obeid.

“That is why I think, if secession is the result of the referendum, this secession will (only) be a political secession. It will have no effect on the ground.”