Ban urges calm in Southern Sudan as referendum process is finalized

Southern Sudan Referendum Commission announcing preliminary results

31 January 2011 – Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon today urged both parties to the peace agreement that ended Sudan’s North-South war to remain calm as the results of the referendum on the future of the south are finalized, commending the two sides for the peaceful conduct of the plebiscite.

The 9-15 January referendum on the self-determination of Southern Sudan was the culmination of the Comprehensive Peace Agreement (CPA) signed in 2005 to end two decades of civil war between the Government of Sudan and the Sudan People’s Liberation Movement/Army (SPLM/A).

Preliminary results indicate that the people of Southern Sudan voted overwhelming in favour of secession.

“Sudan has reached a historic point. All reports indicate a generally peaceful referendum process with a large turnout,” Mr. Ban said in an address to a high-level meeting on Sudan convened by the United Nations and the African Union (AU) in the Ethiopian capital, Addis Ababa, on the sidelines of the AU’s annual summit.

“As the Sudanese people adjust to the new realities on the ground, the CPA parties must shift their attention to the key post-referendum arrangements that will sustain the North-South relationship in the long term,” Mr. Ban said.

The survival of both the North and the South, he added, required agreement on the sharing of oil revenue, while borders have to be agreed on and demarcated, making it possible for traditional migration of communities between the two territories.

“And the futures of millions of Southerners and Northerners depend upon agreements that guarantee basic rights, freedom of movement and livelihoods, regardless of where they live,” the Secretary-General said.

Mr. Ban also discussed these issues in a meeting with United States Deputy Secretary of State, James Steinberg, voicing the hope that the peaceful conduct of the referendum will lead to renewed focus on resolving post-referendum issues and helping Southern Sudan establish strong democratic institutions.

In his remarks, the Secretary-General deplored the outbreak of violence in the Abyei enclave as the rest of the Southern Sudan voted and urged both parties to the CPA to prevent any further violence in the area and other border regions.

Abyei, an area which straddles both North and South, had its own referendum on whether to join the North or South delayed amid local disagreements.

“I also urge the parties to find a sustainable solution that addresses the needs of all populations in the area and lays the foundation for long-term coexistence. The referendum is only one aspect of the broader search for sustainable peace in Sudan,” said Mr. Ban.

On Darfur, the Secretary-General voiced concern over escalating violence, which he said has continued to displace thousands of people.

“All parties to the conflict should put down their arms and engage with the peace process. Now is the time to step up our encouragement to the parties, to advise them that there will be rewards for peace, and consequences for further conflict,” Mr. Ban said.

He called for renewed support for the UN-AU peacekeeping mission in Darfur (UNAMID) and its strategy to ensure its freedom of movement throughout the region, protect civilians and help humanitarian agencies assist those in need.

“Millions of Darfurians continue to live in unacceptable conditions, far from their homes. They deserve from the international community the same high levels of cohesion and urgency we have demonstrated in the work of implementing the CPA,” Mr. Ban said.

The Secretary-General pledged the UN’s continued commitment to working closely with the AU to reach a common vision for peace in Sudan.

While in Addis, the Secretary-General also held separate meetings with Presidents Alpha Conde of Guinea, Teodoro Obiang Nguema Mbasogo of Equatorial Guinea and Ali Bongo Ondimba of Gabon, as well as Vice-President George Kunda of Zambia.

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