Sudan?s referendum commission says its members have agreed to appoint Mohamed Osman al-Nujoomi as secretary general, a post that controls the board?s resources.

Some observers say the move could signal that Khartoum is committed to the January referendum on southern independence. The plebiscite is an important part of the Comprehensive Peace Agreement signed between north and south nearly five years ago.

Alsanosi Ahmed, VOA?s stringer in Khartoum, says al-Nujoomi is a northerner who formerly worked in the finance ministry, while the deputy secretary general of the commission comes from the south.


"We had only one person [who] was brought [up] this morning, and we agreed that he should be the secretary-general," commission member Lual Chany told Reuters.

On Thursday, the SPLM accused the northern ruling National Congress Party (NCP) of trying to derail the referendum now set for January 9. Observers say a delay could spark violent protests by southerners throughout Sudan.

"The NCP [has] no political will to take decisions - they are buying time...with committee after committee," said senior SPLM official Yasir Arman. "The end game is for the referendum not to take place on time," he told Reuters.

The news agency says at least four committees are working to resolve long-standing issues between the north and the south, including the division of oil wealth and the definition of citizenship.