Sudan former rebels criticise census results

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Sudan‘s former southern rebels are criticizing the results of a census that are a key element to the future of a frayed north-south peace deal.

The census is a cornerstone of a 2005 deal that ended two decades of north-south civil war and will define the constituencies for Sudan‘s first democratic elections — due in February 2010 — in more than 20 years, Reuters notes.

The state-run Sudan Media Centre website had said that the results of the census had been endorsed at a meeting on Wednesday headed by Sudanese President Omar Hassan al-Bashir. He is leader of the National Congress Party, Sudan‘s dominant party which has its powerbase in the north.

The first vice president, Salva Kiir, who is also leader of southern Sudan‘s People Liberation Movement (SPLM), also apparently approved of the results, according to the website.

But on Thursday SPLM Secretary General Pagan Amum said that Kiir had reservations about the result, which “were doubtful in their integrity”.

Under the terms of the peace deal, any proof the south had less than a third of Sudan’s total population would lead to a recalculation of how much of the country’s oil revenues flow to the region’s capital Juba.

“The census stated that the number of southern citizens present in the north were about 240,000. The previous government’s estimates were more than 1 million people, most of whom lived in the capital,” Amum told a news conference.

“There is an unnatural increase in the number of citizens in southern Darfur. The percentage of increase in southern Darfur (in the northern part of country) compared to the last census is 90 percent,” he added. The last census was held in 1993.

Sudan‘s census council recently released the country’s population, at 39.15 million, but did not give a breakdown of where they lived, although it said the area aound Khartoum was the most populous.

Southern politicians have suggested they will reject any count that shows fewer than 15 million southerners among a population of about 40 million.



When asked whether the SPLM would boycott the election over the results, Amum said: “It is too soon to talk about this”.