16 December 2010
Security Council
SC/10121

Department of Public Information • News and Media Division • New York

Security Council

6452nd Meeting (AM)


Security Council Calls on Sudan Parties to Fulfil Remaining Commitments,

 

Agree on Outstanding Issues, No Matter Outcome of Referendum

 


Presidential Statement Welcomes Successful Southern

Voter Registration, Urges Maintenance of Peace, Respect for Human Rights


Welcoming the conclusion of a peaceful registration process for the Southern Sudan referendum planned for 9 January 2011, the Security Council today urged the parties to the peace process there to fulfil their remaining commitments, quickly reach agreement on outstanding issues and maintain peace and human rights, no matter what the outcome.


The Council addressed the holding of the referendum, expected to determine whether the South remains part of Sudan or chooses independence, in a statement read out by Susan Rice (United States), its President for December.  The presidential statement preceded briefings by Alain Le Roy, Under-Secretary-General for Department of Peacekeeping Operations, and Benjamin Mkapa, Chair of the Secretary-General’s Panel on the Referendums in the Sudan, as well as statements by Mutrif Siddiq, Sudan’s State Minister for Humanitarian Affairs, Pagan Amum Okiech, Minister for Peace and the Comprehensive Peace Agreement Implementation of the Government of Southern Sudan, and Council members.


In the presidential statement, the Council strongly urged the parties to the Comprehensive Peace Agreement — the ruling National Congress Party and the Sudan People’s Liberation Movement — to finance in an adequate manner the administrative mechanisms for the referendum, among other urgent tasks in the weeks remaining before the vote.


The Council also strongly urged the parties to calm rising tensions in the disputed Abyei region by resolving outstanding issues, and to seeking solutions to critical post-referendum questions, including the border, security, citizenship, debts, assets, currency and natural resources.  It welcomed in that regard the mediation of the African Union High-Level Implementation Panel chaired by former South African President Thabo Mbeki.


Also by the statement, the Council reiterated the urgent need for the parties to reassure all Sudanese that their rights, safety and property would be respected, whatever the outcome of the referendum, as well as the urgent need to focus on the security and protection of minorities, including Southerners in the North and Northerners in the South.  It urged the parties to ensure that citizenship and residency arrangements were in accordance with international norms.


The Council underlined that, whatever the outcome, continuing cooperation between the parties to the Comprehensive Peace Agreement would remain essential, and urged each party to abide by their agreement never to resort to war again, take any action, or support any group that undermined the security of the other.  In that light, the Council expressed its deep concern about the recent military incidents in the Kiir River valley and the subsequent displacement of civilians.  It reiterated the need for all parties to cooperate fully with the United Nations Mission in the Sudan (UNMIS), particularly with respect to the protection of civilians as well as unhindered access and freedom of movement.


Addressing Darfur in the same statement, the Council strongly urged all rebel movements in the troubled region to join the peace process without further delay or preconditions.  It expressed deep concern over the recent increase in violence, including intertribal fighting, attacks by rebel groups on humanitarian personnel and peacekeepers, and aerial bombardments by Government forces.  The Council reiterated its willingness to consider measures against any party whose actions undermined peace.


Under-Secretary-General Le Roy said that with 24 days to go until the referendums, a critical period had been reached in the peace process.  The registration of voters for the referendum in Southern Sudan had been successful, without any violence, he said, adding that 150,000 people had been registered in the North and 2.9 million in the South, according to preliminary counts.  However, it was critically important to reach agreement on other issues relating to the Comprehensive Peace Agreement before the referendum took place.  Progress must also be made on the Abyei question, he emphasized.


Although the security situation in Southern Sudan was relatively calm, it remained fragile, he said.  Given the uncertainties of the coming months, the parties, the United Nations and the international community were preparing to prevent and mitigate humanitarian crises.  UNMIS and the United Nations country team had developed a referendum-related contingency plan for the period from November 2010 to June 2011, he said, adding that the Department of Peacekeeping Operations was working on options for a possible augmentation of United Nations troops in Sudan.


Expressing concern about reports of bombardments by the Sudanese Armed Forces in Darfur, allegedly directed against the Justice and Equality Movement (JEM) but also resulting in casualties among the Sudan People’s Liberation Army (SPLA), he urged the Governments of the North and the South to exercise restraint, noting that support by either party for rebel groups against the other constituted a violation of the Comprehensive Ceasefire Agreement.


Mr. Mkapa said the Referendum Commission and its Bureau were to be highly commended for their work in concluding the registration process, adding that his unit had found the process generally transparent, with very few rejections and no discernable patter of irregularities reported.  He noted that the parties had given important public assurances about respecting the results and the rights of minorities, emphasizing that such messages should be reiterated as the campaign period gathered momentum, regardless of the outcome, in order to assuage anxiety.


Minister Siddiq said the ease with which the registration had taken place showed the determination of both parties to following through on their commitments, assuring the Council that his Government would accept the outcome of the Southern Sudan referendum whether the voters chose unity or independence.  He called on the international community to help build confidence in a peaceful outcome, and stressed that much work was being done to resolve outstanding issues.  The issue of Abyei was difficult because it not only involved resources, but also the interests of two major ethnic communities, he explained.


Agreeing that the voter registration process had been a success, Minister Okiech expressed concern, however, that the numbers had been low among Southerners in the North.  He said his Government had contributed disproportionately to the Referendum Commission and invited the Government of Sudan to meet their commitments in that area.  Noting that all signs pointed to a likely vote for independence in January, he called on all Member States to respect the people’s choice and in that light, welcomed recent statements by the President of Sudan.  The Abyei question might be solved more easily if the communities involved knew their rights were protected by previous agreements, he suggested.


Security Council members then took the floor to affirm the positions set forth in the presidential statement, with some also cautioning against external interference and warning against prejudging the outcome.  Many also addressed the situation in Darfur, urging an end to the violence.  The representative of the United States condemned recent attacks by the Sudanese Armed Forces that had resulted in the displacement of civilians.


Also speaking this morning were the representatives of the United Kingdom, Uganda, France, Japan, Russian Federation, Austria, Nigeria, Gabon, Brazil, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Turkey, Lebanon, China and Mexico.


The meeting began at 10:27 a.m. and ended at 12:39 p.m.


Presidential Statement


The full text of presidential statement S/PRST/2010/28 reads as follows:


“The Security Council welcomes the Sudanese parties’ reaffirmations of their commitment to full and timely implementation of the Comprehensive Peace Agreement, and reaffirms its strong support for the parties’ efforts in this regard.  The Security Council welcomes the conclusion of a peaceful registration process for the Southern Sudan referendum in Sudan, and encourages the parties to continue this forward momentum towards peaceful and credible referendums held on 9 January 2011 that reflect the will of the people.  The Council strongly urges the Comprehensive Peace Agreement parties to promptly fulfil their remaining commitments to finance the Southern Sudan Referendum Commission and Southern Sudan Referendum Bureau.


“The Security Council reaffirms its support for the United Nations Secretary General’s Panel for the Referendums led by President Benjamin Mkapa, and welcomes its work, including its 9 December 2010 statement noting that the registration process provides the basis for a credible referendum.  The Council extends its appreciation for the efforts of international and domestic observers.


“The Security Council notes with deep concern the absence of an agreement on Abyei.  The Security Council strongly urges the parties to calm rising tensions in Abyei, to urgently reach agreement on Abyei and other outstanding Comprehensive Peace Agreement issues, and to resolve critical post-referendum issues, including the border, security, citizenship, debts, assets, currency and natural resources.  The Council welcomes the work of the African Union High-Level Implementation Panel, led by former South African President Thabo Mbeki, and its continuing efforts in this regard.


“The Security Council reiterates its call for all parties to cooperate fully with UNMIS in the discharge of its mandate, specifically with respect to protection of civilians and to granting unhindered access and freedom of movement.


“The Security Council reiterates the urgent need for the parties to provide immediate and ongoing reassurance to people of all nationalities in Sudan, so that their rights, safety and property will be respected whatever the outcome of the referendums, and the urgent need to focus on the security and protection of minorities including Southerners in the North and Northerners in the South.  The Security Council urges the parties to ensure that citizenship and residency arrangements are in accordance with applicable international obligations and refrain from arbitrarily depriving an individual of citizenship.  The Council urges the Comprehensive Peace Agreement parties to respect their obligations.


“The Council stresses the importance of inclusive, timely, and credible popular consultations processes in Blue Nile and Southern Kordofan States, in accordance with the Comprehensive Peace Agreement.  The Council also stresses the need for Southern Kordofan state-level elections to be held in accordance with the timeline established by the National Elections Commission.


“The Security Council underlines that, whatever the outcome of the referendums, continued cooperation between the Comprehensive Peace Agreement parties will remain essential.  The Council stresses the importance of the parties abiding by the commitments recorded in the African Union High-Level Implementation Panel statement of 15 November, including to find peaceful solutions to all outstanding matters, to never to resort to war again and that neither party should take any action, or support any group, that would undermine the security of the other.  The Council is deeply concerned about the recent military incidents in the Kiir River valley and the subsequent displacement of civilians, and urges all parties to exercise restraint, avoiding escalation.


“The Security Council reaffirms its support for the African Union-United Nations-led peace process for Darfur, hosted by the Government of Qatar.  The Council strongly urges all rebel movements to join the peace process without further delay or preconditions.  The Council reiterates the importance of increased participation of women in the Sudanese peace processes.  The Security Council reiterates its deep concern about the increases in violence and insecurity in Darfur, including recently in Khor Abeche, such as ceasefire violations, attacks by rebel groups, increased intertribal fighting, attacks on humanitarian personnel and peacekeepers, and aerial bombardment by the Government of Sudan.  The Council recalls the importance it attaches to an end to impunity, and to justice for crimes committed in Darfur.  The Council reiterates its willingness to consider measures against any party whose actions undermine peace in Sudan.”


Background


The Security Council met this morning to consider the situation in Sudan, in particular the upcoming referendums.


Briefings


ALAIN LE ROY, Under-Secretary-General for Peacekeeping Operations, said that with 24 days to go until the referendums, a critical period in the peace process had been reached and the coming weeks would determine the country’s future.  The United Nations and the international community would continue to support the parties strongly throughout the process.


As for the referendum in Southern Sudan, he said great progress had been made.  The registration process had been successful, without violence, transparent and free of organized fraud.  A voters’ list was being established, he said, adding that some 150,000 people had been registered in the North and 2.9 million in the South, according to preliminary counts.


Preparations for the referendum on 9 January were under way, he said, noting that the procurement of vital equipment had been completed and additional staff found to man polling centres.  Voting procedures and plans for announcing results were being finalized.  However, both the Northern and Southern Governments must urgently provide the funding required, and the parties must maintain an environment conducive to the holding of a violence-free referendum, he stressed.


He said other Comprehensive Peace Agreement matters, including resource-sharing, management of capital, citizenship issues and border questions must be addressed and agreement among the parties reached before the referendum took place.  The African Union High-Level Implementation Panel on Sudan had made some progress, he said, adding that the outcome of the negotiations would have significant implications for all stakeholders.  Possible changes in the status of property rights would be a major concern for Southern Sudanese living in the North and Northerners living in the South.


There had been no progress on the question of Abyei and tensions on the ground were rising, he said, warning that any security incident could derail the peace process.  Difficult compromises were required to ensure coexistence and peace among all communities.  The issue of border demarcation must also be addressed under the Comprehensive Peace Agreement, he said, noting that popular consultations in South Kordofan and Blue Nile states were being postponed.  It was important to note, however, that on 6 December, the parties had signed a framework agreement on oilfields.


He said he was concerned about reports of bombardments by the Sudanese Armed Forces in the border areas between North Bahr el-Ghazal and South Darfur states, as well as in West Bahr el-Ghazal state, allegedly directed against the Justice and Equality Movement (JEM), but also resulting in casualties among the Sudan People’s Liberation Army (SPLA).  He urged both Governments to exercise restraint, noting that support by either party for rebel groups against the other constituted a violation of the Comprehensive Ceasefire Agreement.  The Ceasefire Joint Military Commission had discussed the matter on 15 November, he added.


Restrictions on the free movement of the United Nations Mission in the Sudan (UNMIS) remained a major challenge, notably in South Kordofan state and northern Abyei, he said.  UNMIS was also experiencing long delays in the issuance of visas for its personnel, including those most needed in the referendums, he said, urging the Government to clear pending visa applications without delay.


Although the security situation in Southern Sudan was relatively calm, it remained fragile, he said, noting that the political and security environment could become increasingly tense during and after the referendum.  The Department of Peacekeeping Operations was working on options for a possible augmentation of United Nations troops in Sudan, and UNMIS was increasing its presence in hotspots while redeploying additional company-size troops to Abyei, South Kordofan and a new team site near the border between Upper Nile and White Nile states.  The Integrated Joint Operations Centre in Khartoum and the Regional Operations Centre in Juba had been strengthened, he said.


He went on to say that the Russian Federation had recently redeployed to Juba four helicopters previously with the United Nations Mission in the Central African Republic and Chad (MINURCAT).  However, the presence of United Nations troops alone would not be enough to prevent a return to war should widespread hostilities erupt, he cautioned, emphasizing that only a demonstrated commitment by the parties to refrain from inflammatory statements, uphold the Comprehensive Peace Agreement ceasefire mechanism and engage in dialogue would succeed in maintaining peace.


The overall goal of the UNMIS protection strategy, he said, was to prevent, reduce and stop violence against civilian populations; ensure humanitarian access to vulnerable populations; and help both Governments assume their primary responsibility to protect civilian populations.  To fulfil that task, it was essential that the Mission be able to identify vulnerable communities and individuals before disputes erupted.  It was also important to ensure State responsibility at all levels for addressing concerns.  UNMIS had therefore decentralized its protection activities at the state and regional levels.


Given the uncertainties of the coming months, the parties, the United Nations and the international community were preparing to prevent and mitigate humanitarian crises, he continued.  UNMIS and the United Nations country team had developed a referendum-related contingency plan for the period November 2010 to June 2011.  In the unlikely event that the referendum led to large-scale violence, approximately 2.8 million people could be internally displaced and another 3.2 million people negatively affected, he cautioned, adding that up to $63 million might be required to provide emergency assistance to those in need.  Similar plans were also being prepared by United Nations missions and presences in neighbouring countries, particularly the United Nations Organization Stabilization Mission in the Democratic Republic of the Congo (MONUSCO).


The outcomes of the referendums and negotiations on post-referendum issues would undoubtedly affect the United Nations presence in Sudan, he said.  UNMIS and the United Nations country team were examining possible future conflict dynamics in post-Comprehensive Peace Agreement Sudan, particularly in the South, where capacity-building needs and institutional development were paramount.  Since events in the early days of 2011 would be unique in Sudan’s history, all Comprehensive Peace Agreement partners should intensify their efforts to provide support to all Sudanese in order to hold a successful referendum and respect the people’s choice by endorsing and implementing its outcome, he emphasized.


BENJAMIN MKAPA, Chair of the Secretary-General’s Panel on the Referendums in Sudan, confirmed that the registration of voters had been conducted in a peaceful and orderly manner despite time constraints and limitations on communications and financial resources.  The Referendum Commission and its Bureau were to be highly commended for their work, he said, adding that his unit, including its field officers on the ground, had found the process generally transparent, with very few rejections and no discernable pattern of irregularities reported.


The parties had given important public assurances about respecting the outcome of the referendums and the rights of Southerners in the North and Northerners in the South, he said, emphasizing that such messages should be reiterated as the campaign period gathered momentum to assuage anxiety, regardless of the outcome.  On the lack of progress in Abyei, he commended the patience shown by the local people and urged the parties to redouble their efforts to find a lasting solution to that difficult issue.


Leading up to the referendum, the Panel’s role was to monitor and assess the processes, including the political and security situation on the ground, he said.  It would also engage the parties at the appropriate level to take corrective measures and, in close consultation with the Secretary-General, issue public statements on the referendum.  The Panel had stressed to its interlocutors that it did not have a certification mandate, but would focus on playing a “good offices” role on behalf of the Secretary-General while liaising closely with international and national observer groups.


MUTRIF SIDDIQ, State Minister for Humanitarian Affairs of Sudan, said his Government had shown its determination to implement all parts of the Comprehensive Peace Agreement so as to ensure that brotherly relations between North and South would continue regardless of the outcome of the referendums.  The ease with which the registration had taken place showed the commitment of both parties to follow through on their commitments, he said, assuring the Council that financial support to the Election Commission would not stop, and that remaining tasks would be taken care of.


He said a settlement on Abyei was at the top of pending issues for the Government.  It would be a settlement between two major ethnic groups, besides the division of resources and the delineation of borders.  For that purpose, wisdom must be applied, he stressed, adding that much dialogue had been conducted, although it had not yet led to an agreement.  Unilateral agreements would only result in an explosive situation, he warned, emphasizing that a settlement must be found through negotiations so as to avoid future confrontations.  Discussions on other unresolved issues were continuing in workshops and meetings, without distracting from the conduct of the referendum, with the aim of resolving them before the end of the transitional period.


Whatever the outcome confidence was being built in the continuing peace, he said, calling on international partners to help build that confidence instead of damaging it through a focus on rumours.  Too much work had been put into the Comprehensive Peace Agreement to allow it to fail through a loss of confidence, he said.  As for Darfur, he expressed gratitude to Qatar and all those involved in facilitating negotiations, and called on the Council to send a firm message to rebels in Darfur.  They must join the Doha peace process and end their attacks on the African Union-United Nations Hybrid Operation in Darfur (UNAMID) and on civilians.


Describing the humanitarian situation in Darfur as stable, he said the Government was cooperating with the international community to deliver assistance to those who needed it.  The State had provided large sums of money to develop infrastructure in Darfur and attract international support.  He also thanked donors who had contributed to development projects in eastern Sudan, and expressed hope that today’s meeting would contribute to a smooth transition in Southern Sudan, contributing to brotherly relations and integration between North and South, no matter the outcome of the referendums, whether independence or unity.


PAGAN AMUM OKIECH, Minister for Peace and the Comprehensive Peace Agreement Implementation of the Government of Southern Sudan and Secretary-General of the Sudan People’s Liberation Movement (SPLM), agreed that the voter registration process had been peaceful, with the registration of some 3.6 million people.  That important step could not have been carried out without the support of the United Nations and the international community, he said, pointing out, however, that registration in the North had been disappointingly low.  That was an indication of the concerns amongst Southerners in the North as to whether voting there would be free and fair, with no repercussions.


Reiterating his call for the referendum to be conducted on time, the results to be respected and the parties to the Comprehensive Peace Agreement to cooperate fully to that end, he pledged that the Government of Southern Sudan would spare no effort in that regard.  It continued to contribute a disproportionate share of funding for the Referendum Commission, he said, inviting its partners in the Government of Sudan to contribute the amounts to which they had previously committed.  He thanked international partners for their support of the referendum, particularly the Russian Federation for providing helicopters.


All signs continued to point to the fact that the people of Southern Sudan were likely to vote for independence, he said, calling on all Member States to respect their choice.  He welcomed recent statements by President Omer al-Bashir that the National Congress Party was committed to accepting the results, whether the vote led to unity or secession.  SPLM also remained committed to a peaceful, stable and prosperous future for the people of Sudan, he pledged.


He expressed gratitude for the work of the African Union High-Level Implementation Panel in helping to lay out the principles for a framework agreement that would govern the relationship between South and North if the people chose separation.  It had set the stage for productive negotiations on all outstanding issues, which the Government of Southern Sudan would spare no effort to resolve through dialogue.  There were two options for Abyei, he said, holding a referendum that would guarantee grazing and transit rights for nomads, or transferring Abyei to the South by decree of the President of Sudan, in the same way in which the region had been transferred in 1905 — an administrative order with an agreement on the rights of nomads.


Any agreement on Abyei must respect earlier accords, including the Comprehensive Peace Agreement and the tribunal ruling that granted a portion of Ngok Dinka territory to the Misseriya nomads, he continued.  Concerned that the Misseriya themselves were not yet fully aware of the extent to which their rights would be protected under any agreement, he emphasized the urgent need for rapid agreement on Abyei as well as the commitment of the Government of Southern Sudan to reach an accord through negotiation.


The Government of Southern Sudan also shared the Council’s concern about the situation in Darfur and the potential effects of renewed military action on North-South relations, he said, calling on all parties there to re-engage in negotiations and support an inclusive, comprehensive peace.  In that context, the Government of Southern Sudan would welcome discussions with its partners in Khartoum to strengthen existing agreements mutual security guarantees, including commitments that both sides should refrain from supporting military proxies or other armed groups that promoted instability in either region.  SPLM had no interest in supporting armed groups, he emphasized.


Statements


MARK LYALL GRANT (United Kingdom) said it was vital in the last few weeks before the referendum that the parties fulfil their obligations in a timely manner and that the international community continue its support.  Encouraged by the successful registration process, the United Kingdom urged the parties to ensure that the good progress was maintained.  However, the lack of progress on Abyei was disturbing, he said, urging both parties to show flexibility and leaderships.


It was vital that the Council not lose sight of events in Darfur, he emphasized, urging all rebel groups to join the Doha peace process without delay or preconditions.  The Council should consider firm measures against those who refused to do so.  Deeply concerned about the security situation in Darfur, including recent incidents that had resulted in displacements, he stressed that humanitarian access and freedom of movement must be assured in Darfur.


RUHAKANA RUGUNDA ( Uganda) said the full implementation of the Comprehensive Peace Agreement remained the key to peace and stability in Sudan and the region as a whole.  It was essential that the parties address outstanding issues such as Abyei.  It would require leadership to ensure that the referendum in Southern Sudan was held on time and conducted in a free and fair atmosphere, and that the outcome was respected.  Welcoming the commitments expressed by the parties to respect the results, he said he was encouraged by the high turnout — some 96 per cent — for the voter registration.


Reaching a workable agreement on post-referendum arrangements was also essential, he continued.  The African Union High-Level Implementation Panel’s facilitation of negotiations remained important for their successful and timely completion.  International support remained crucial, he said, recalling that the 23 November summit of the Intergovernmental Authority on Development (IGAD) had reiterated the commitment of its member States to support full implementation of the Comprehensive Peace Agreement and to support Sudan during the post-referendum period.


GÉRARD ARAUD (France) welcomed commitments by the parties not to resort to violence, but expressed “great concern” about the recent bombings in Darfur.  The referendum must be fair and transparent, he said, noting the deployment of many observers.  The Panel on the Referendums would provide the international community with an overall view of the proceedings, he said, noting its concern about some popular committees in the North that had tried to dissuade voters from registering.  He also expressed concern about the lack of agreement on Abyei and encouraged the parties to make the necessary concessions.  Turning to Darfur, he said that, since a political solution was the only way forward, the two main rebel groups should join the Doha peace process without preconditions.  As there could be no peace without justice, he called on all States to cooperate with the International Criminal Court.


TSUNEO NISHIDA (Japan) said that in the wake of the peaceful voter registration for the Southern Sudan referendum, the most important element now was political will and commitment on the part of the parties concerned.  To alleviate anxiety among people in the South, they should be informed in advance about the entire process and the expected time lag between voting and the announcement of the final results.  The Panel on the Referendums should consult beforehand with the Southern Sudan Referendum Committee, the parties to the Comprehensive Peace Agreement, the African Union High-Level Implementation Panel, UNMIS and other observers concerning arrangements after completion of the voting.


He welcomed the intensive consultations between the parties to the Comprehensive Peace Agreement to discuss Abyei and post-referendum issues, including citizenship and natural resources, urging them to accelerate those discussions.  It was essential to maintain good relations between North and South beyond the interim period, he said, adding that the international community should continue to assist both parties to that end.  Japan would disburse some $70 million for humanitarian assistance, he pledged.  Turning to Darfur, he called for all armed groups to participate in the negotiations under the Doha peace process and expressed concern at recent incidents that had generated further displacements.  Hopefully, those would not affect North-South relations, he said.


VITALY CHURKIN (Russian Federation), welcoming the constructive tone of the morning’s discussion, expressed hope that the referendum would help Sudan’s long-term sustainability.  Calling for the peaceful and timely holding of the referendum, he said his country would accept any outcome, but stressed that outsiders must not prejudge such an outcome.  The priority now was for the parties to settle the Abyei issue, he emphasized, adding that the cooperation of the parties was key in the six-month transition period, given the priority of keeping the peace and bearing in mind the situation in Darfur as well.


THOMAS MAYR-HARTING (Austria) said his country’s Foreign Minister, on a visit to Sudan last week, had held talks with both parties as well as the Chair of the African Union High-Level Panel, former South African President Thabo Mbeki.  He had come away with the general impression that while both sides were committed to holding the referendum on time, overall implementation of the Comprehensive Peace Agreement, and the political situation in both the North and the South, remained fragile.  It was therefore important that the international community send positive messages stressing the benefits that full implementation of the Comprehensive Peace Agreement would bring.


Regarding preparations for the post-referendum phase, he expressed particular concern about the inability to resolve the “dangerous” problem of citizenship, adding that his country had offered technical expertise in that area.  He also called on all parties to work constructively on an early and equitable solution for Abyei, noting also that the popular consultations in Blue Nile and South Kordofan states should lead to the strengthening of human rights for all, with the full inclusion of women in those processes.


The participation of UNMIS in the regional strategy for the protection of civilians from attacks by the Lord’s Resistance Army (LRA) was essential, he said, adding that his country supported ongoing United Nations-led preparations to respond to possible humanitarian needs and other challenges.  Expressing deep concern about insecurity in Darfur, he urged all parties to work on a cessation of hostilities, and condemned the abduction of peacekeepers and humanitarian workers, as well as violence against civilians.


RAFF BUKUN-OLU WOLE ONEMOLA(Nigeria) encouraged the parties to dissipate the climate of fear and mistrust by, among other things, halting all military activities, particularly bombings.  The negotiations launched by Mr. Mbeki on post-referendum issues should produce significant outcomes on border demarcation, citizenship, wealth-sharing, grazing rights and security, he said, noting that the appointment of the Abyei Referendum Commission was an important step.


Emphasizing the importance of reaching clarity on the status of Southerners in the North and Northerners in the South as soon as possible, he said rhetoric should be toned down.  Since the United Nations had an important role to play in the referendum, the parties should remove all restrictions on the movement of UNMIS personnel, he stressed.  Regarding Darfur, he called on all rebel groups that had not yet done so to join the Doha peace process.


EMANUEL ISSOZE-NGONDET (Gabon) said the peaceful and harmonious voter registration process was proof of the parties’ commitment to the Comprehensive Peace Agreement, adding that the positive momentum implied that the referendum would be credible and free, and that the results would be accepted by all.  He expressed concern, however, about the difficulties that the Referendum Commission had experienced in securing funding.  He also noted serious delays in agreements on post-referendum arrangements, and invited the parties to reach agreement in a timely way in order to guarantee cooperation between the North and the South, regardless the referendum’s outcome.  Despite the stalemate over the Abyei referendum, Mr. Mbeki’s initiative to bring the parties together could be catalytic in bringing about a solution, he said.  He also encouraged rebels groups in Darfur that had not yet done so to join the peace process as soon as possible.


MARIA LUIZA RIBEIRO VIOTTI (Brazil) welcomed the completion of voter registration, but said important concerns remained, including insufficient funding for the Southern Sudan Referendum Commission, the recent instability in northern Bahr el-Ghazal and the mounting tensions in Abyei.  The Darfur Peace Agreement had been eroded by the resumption of hostilities between the Sudanese Armed Forces and the Sudan Liberation Army-Minni Minnawi faction, she said, expressing confidence nevertheless that the Sudanese leadership would rise to the challenge.


First and foremost, all possible measures must be taken to hold a timely, free and fair Southern Sudan referendum and implement its result, she emphasized.  Finding a peaceful solution for Abyei was also of key importance, as was guaranteeing the safety and respecting the rights of minorities in the North and the South.  The parties would need patience and courage to negotiate successfully a number of key post-referendum arrangements.


MIRSADA ČOLAKOVIĆ (Bosnia and Herzegovina) said it was of the utmost importance to complete all procedural work for the referendum on time, and called upon the parties to prevent any further delays.  She also expressed concern that the parties had not yet agreed on the eligibility of voters in the Abyei referendum.  Turning to post-referendum arrangements, she welcomed the establishment of working groups on wealth-sharing, citizenship, security and international legal instruments, but noted that the process should be conducted in a more expeditious fashion.  It was essential that the parties continue dialogue in a spirit of compromise in order to resolve substantial issues such as borders, revenue-sharing, citizenship and Abyei.


ERTUĞRUL APAKAN (Turkey) said Sudan’s future was now in the hands of the Sudanese, and no matter what the outcome of the referendum, they would all continue to be interdependent.  It was therefore crucial to address all post-referendum issues in a comprehensive manner.  All vulnerable communities must be protected, he stressed, adding that, while international support was important, only the Sudanese themselves could keep the peace.  He called for perpetrators of attacks in Darfur to be brought to justice and for all armed groups there to join the peace process.  There must be real consequences for rebel groups that did not cooperate, he added.  As for the South, the Comprehensive Peace Agreement was not just a series of deadlines that must be met, he said, underlining the trauma of possibly breaking up a country and stressing that the Council must be prepared for the post-referendum period, and remain closely engaged.


NAWAF SALAM ( Lebanon) welcomed the efforts made by the parties and international organizations in helping to meet deadlines so far on the referendum.  He also welcomed assurances that the parties would not resort to violence and that they would follow through on the Comprehensive Peace Agreement.  He called on the parties to keep reaffirming those commitments, and on the international community to continue to provide support.  Noting that many issues critical to implementation of the Comprehensive Peace Agreement still must be resolved, he said cooperation between North and South must continue no matter the outcome of the referendum.  Expressing hope that all parties would take part in the Darfur peace process, he noted that there were many other concerns in that region, such as the violence perpetrated by LRA, and he called for regional cooperation in dealing with them.


YANG TAO (China) said the peace process continued to register positive results, including the harmonious conclusion of the voter-registration process.  It was to be hoped that the North and the South would intensify their preparations for the referendum and ensure it was conducted in a free and fair manner.  Calling on the international community to refrain from prejudging the outcome, he said peace and stability should be maintained no matter the result.  He also expressed hope that the North and South would continue their dialogue and reach agreement on border demarcation, Abyei, wealth-sharing and other outstanding issues.  Achieving substantive results and reaching a comprehensive political agreement was important for calm in Darfur, he said, noting that without such an agreement, there could be no protection of civilians, recovery, reconstruction or development.  He urged rebel groups that had not yet done so to join the Doha peace process without preconditions.


GUILLERMO PUENTE ( Mexico) said the situation still presented challenges only a few weeks before the referendum.  Although parties had been able to identify the steps necessary to prevent a return to armed conflict and had established dialogue, more efforts were needed to hold the referendum on the established date.  Hopefully the parties would continue with preparations with a sense of urgency and fulfil their commitments regarding funding the Referendum Commission.  The lack of agreement on Abyei was a matter of concern as it heightened tensions.  Post-referendum issues should also be addressed, he said, warning that the United Nations and the international community must be fully prepared to react expeditiously to any scenario.  On Darfur, he said the security situation there was a cause for concern, and stressed the need for all parties to cease hostilities and meet at the negotiating table.


Council President SUSAN RICE ( United States), speaking in her national capacity, said the Council had shown unprecedented unity in supporting the referendum process and must continue to speak in a unified manner on Sudan.  A successful referendum was critical for the country and the region, and the successful completion of voter registration showed that a timely and successful holding of the referendum was possible.  She expressed full support for President Mbeki’s efforts to help the parties reach an agreement on Abyei, which, she stressed, must be reached through dialogue with the communities and the consent of both parties.  She urged both parties to settle other issues and provide adequate funding for referendum mechanisms.  On the critical issue of citizenship, she called on the parties to reach an agreement meeting international standards and to cooperate fully with UNMIS.


She strongly condemned recent Government of Sudan actions in Darfur displacing civilians and burning down their villages, and stressed that the Chapter VII mandate of UNAMID meant it must perform its mandated activities with or without the consent of the host country.  She called on the Government immediately to halt aerial bombardments such as the recent ones that had displaced some 1,000 people.  She also called on that Government to allow freedom of speech and assembly.  All States must redouble efforts to stem the flow of arms into Darfur and support the sanctions regime on Sudan.  The United States remained committed to a positive future for Sudan, the condition of which would have a great influence on the region.


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For information media • not an official record