Although he welcomes the commitment by the two parties to the peace pact ending Sudan’s north-south civil war to holding referenda on the country’s future on schedule, a senior United Nations official underscored the need to accelerate efforts to resolve key issues, including citizenship and border demarcation, ahead of these ballots.
Sudanese are slated to vote early next year on whether the south should secede from the rest of the country and also to determine the final status of Abyei, an oil-rich area in the centre of the country. These referenda are part of the Comprehensive Peace Agreement, the 2005 deal that ended the long-running civil war.
A commission on the south Sudan referendum has been established, but it still does not have a general secretary and any operational capabilities, Alain Le Roy, Under-Secretary-General for Peacekeeping Affairs, told reporters in New York.
A similar commission, he noted, has yet to be set up for the Abyei referendum.
The functioning of these commissions is “absolutely crucial if we want to have a peaceful sequence in the Sudan for the coming months,” Mr. Le Roy said, especially if the referenda will be held simultaneously, as stipulated by the CPA. For its part, the UN Mission in Sudan is preparing for the referenda by providing technical and logistical assistance, UN News Service reports.
“We are still pushing the parties and requesting the parties to accelerate their own preparations,” the peacekeeping chief said, referring to the National Congress Party (NCP) and the Sudan People’s Liberation Movement.
On the war-torn Sudanese region of Darfur, he pointed to the lack of a “real” ceasefire between the Government and the rebel group known as the Justice and Equality Movement (JEM), despite the Framework Agreement signed earlier this year, as a reason why tensions have been on the rise.
The friction in Darfur came to a head over the weekend in the Kalma camp for the displaced, where deadly clashes broke out between internally displaced persons who support the peace talks being held in Doha, Qatar, and those who oppose them.
Mr. Le Roy today expressed concern that the situation in Kalma, where the troops from the joint United Nations-African Union peacekeeping mission have maintained a constant presence, could “unravel” to other camps in the region.