The European Union and African states will urge Sudan to accept the results of next year’s referendum on whether the south of the country should secede, according to a draft joint declaration seen by Reuters.
The January 9 referendum in the oil-producing south is likely to produce a vote in favour of independence, diplomats and analysts have said, but it also could be a flashpoint for renewed conflict.
Concerns over the referendum, part of a 2005 peace deal that ended decades of north-south civil war, were reflected in a draft final declaration drawn up for a summit of EU and African Union states in Libya, Reuters reports.
“On Sudan, we emphasise the urgency and importance of ensuring that all elements of the CPA (Comprehensive Peace Agreement) … are implemented in a timely, peaceful and credible manner, in particular the referendum on South Sudan whose results should be accepted by all,” the draft said.
It also said all sides should respect the provisions of the 2005 peace agreement on Abyei, an oil-producing region which is supposed to hold a simultaneous plebiscite on whether to join the south or the north.
The EU-Africa summit, the first in three years, was scheduled to vote on its final declaration later on Tuesday.
Other provisions in the draft include:
— The EU and Africa “firmly condemn all unconstitutional changes of governments, which, alongside bad governance, are one of the main causes of instability”. This was a reference to a spate of coups d’etat which have tested the resolve of African leaders to end the practise of military strong-men seizing power by force.
— The draft touched on the divisive issue of the International Criminal Court’s indictment of Sudanese President Omar Hassan al-Bashir on war crimes and genocide charges. The EU and some African governments back his arrest, but a number of African states say they oppose it.
“We emphasise the need to strengthen national legal systems and the international cooperation in the pursuit of justice, peace and reconciliation, including the prosecution of the most serious crimes,” the draft said.