Full, Timely Implementation of Sudan’s Comprehensive Peace Agreement Essential to National, Regional Stability, Security Council Presidential Statement Says

16 November 2010
SC/10086

Full, Timely Implementation of Sudan’s Comprehensive Peace Agreement Essential to National, Regional Stability, Security Council Presidential Statement Says

16 November 2010
Security Council
SC/10086
Department of Public Information • News and Media Division • New York

Security Council

6425th Meeting (AM)

Full, Timely Implementation of Sudan’s Comprehensive Peace Agreement Essential

to National, Regional Stability, Security Council Presidential Statement Says

Ministers Welcome Start of Voter Registration

In South, While Pressing for Greater Progress on Abyei, Darfur

Emphasizing that the situation in Sudan represented one of the most urgent challenges facing the Security Council, the 15-member body, convening at the ministerial level, underlined today that full and timely implementation of the Comprehensive Peace Agreement (CPA), including the holding of referenda on the self-determination of Southern Sudan and the status of Abyei, was essential to national as well as regional peace and stability.

In a statement read out by William Hague, Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs of the United Kingdom, which holds its rotating presidency this month, the Council urged the parties to the CPA to ensure peaceful, credible, timely and free referenda that would reflect the will of the people of Southern Sudan and Abyei.  It welcomed in that regard the start of voter registration for the Southern Sudan referendum on 15 November, and encouraged further efforts to ensure that the referenda were held on 9 January 2011.

The Council underlined the importance of making rapid progress on a way forward for the Abyei referendum, on outstanding CPA issues, and on resolving critical post-referendum questions in a peaceful, mutually beneficial manner, including borders, security, citizenship, debt, assets, currency and natural resources.  It also underlined the need for the parties to promote calm and ensure that the rights, safety and property of all in Sudan, including southerners in the North and northerners in the South, would be respected whatever the outcome of the referenda.  In that regard, the Council called for an immediate end to statements threatening the security of vulnerable populations.

Further by the presidential statement, the Council underlined that, whatever the outcome of the referenda, cooperation between the CPA parties would remain essential in managing the transition process, implementing post-referendum arrangements and maintaining peace and prosperity.

Reaffirming its support for Darfur peace process led by the African Union and the United Nations, and hosted by the Government of Qatar, the Council strongly urged all rebel movements to join the negotiations without further delay or preconditions, and on all parties immediately to cease hostilities.  It expressed its willingness to consider measures against any party whose actions undermined peace in Darfur and called on all parties to protect civilians and maintain full, safe and unhindered access for humanitarian workers to those in need of assistance.  It also recalled the importance it attached to ending impunity and ensuring that perpetrators of crimes in Darfur were brought to justice.

At the outset of the meeting, United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon said:  “The coming months are likely to be difficult for the people of Sudan and the international community engaged there.”  The referendum had the potential to change Sudan’s future and send “shockwaves” through the region, he emphasized, urging the parties to recognize that the vision of a new Sudan outlined in the CPA remained as valid today as it had been half a decade ago.

He noted the start of voter registration in Southern Sudan, saying:  “With the commencement of this process, the referendum is on track.”  To ensure it was conducted in an orderly fashion, and that the Sudanese people accepted the outcome, it was imperative that the process be credible and transparent, reflecting the aspirations of the population, he added.

Turning to Darfur, he said “the disturbing implication of [recent] fighting is that the parties have not yet decided to give up the military path”.  For any accord to gain traction within the region, it must address the roots of the conflict and end Darfur’s marginalization, which required concessions on power and wealth-sharing, as well as efforts to address questions of truth and reconciliation, he said, urging the Council to encourage rebel movements outside the peace process to demonstrate commitment to a successful outcome in Doha.  The Secretary-General also requested the Council to encourage the Government of Sudan to address local demands for security, notably in relation to impunity, and to respect the civil and political rights of Darfur’s people.

Addressing the Council via video link, Thabo Mbeki, Chairperson of the African Union High-level Implementation Panel on Sudan and the African Union High-level Panel on Darfur, announced that the parties to the CPA had agreed to ensure a free and fair referendum and committed themselves to respect the outcome.  Negotiations on post-referendum arrangements had been launched and the parties had engaged on issues of security, borders, citizenship, oil and water resources, currency matters, assets and liabilities, as well as international treaties and agreements.

As for Darfur, he said the recent clashes between the Sudanese Armed Forces and the Justice and Equality Movement (JEM) underlined the need urgently to establish peace in the troubled region.  He called on the Government of Sudan to improve the security situation, facilitate voluntary returns by refugees and internally displaced persons to their places of origin, and to begin addressing issues of recovery, development, justice and reconciliation.

Both Ali Ahmed Karti, Minister for Foreign Affairs of Sudan, and Pagan Amum, Secretary-General of the Sudan People’s Liberation Movement (SPLM), expressed their commitment to implementing the CPA, including holding the referendum.

“The referendum is a commitment that is to be honoured and we are willing to honour it,” said Mr. Karti, adding that the decision to allow the South its right to self-determination was among the more daring decisions taken in Africa.  He renewed the Government’s commitment to hold the referendum as scheduled and to accept the results, whether in favour of unity or secession.  As for progress towards a framework agreement for the North and South, he said an historic accord had been reached yesterday on strategic issues, notably a determination not to return to war.

Mr. Amum said:  “The people and Government of Southern Sudan strongly desire a peaceful and collaborative relationship between the South and the North — a relationship that benefits and protects all of our peoples.  Even though the people of Southern Sudan may choose to secede, we shall always remain neighbours and we have no choice but to be good neighbours.”  He added:  “No Northern Sudanese rights will be violated or activities obstructed, regardless of the outcome of the referendum.  All we ask is that the rights and livelihoods of Southern Sudanese in the North be treated in exactly the same way.”

Mr. Hague, who convened today’s ministerial-level meeting, said the global community must be ready to work beyond the referendum on the long-term issues affecting each side.  The United Kingdom had taken the lead role in handling Sudan’s international debt while the African Union was playing a vital role in helping the North and South bridge their differences.  In Darfur, there was a need for a peaceful and inclusive political settlement, and to address violence, especially by combating impunity.  “I do not underestimate how difficult this process is for the parties,” he added.

Hillary Rodham Clinton, Secretary of State of the United States, said that if Sudan chose the path of peace, its Government could enjoy “dramatically improved” ties with her country, including the normalization of relations.  If it chose conflict, however, it would face additional pressure and deeper isolation.  “We are prepared to do much more,” she continued, pledging that if the Government fulfilled its CPA obligations, resolved the future of Abyei, held the referendum on time, and recognized the will of the Southern Sudanese, the United States would begin a process to remove Sudan from its list of State sponsors of terrorism.  If Sudan committed itself to a peaceful resolution of the conflict in Darfur, the United States would be willing to offer a path towards an end to sanctions and increased trade and investment, she added.

Also speaking today were the Foreign Ministers of Austria, Bosnia and Herzegovina and Nigeria; the Minister of State for Foreign Affairs in charge International Affairs of and Uganda, the State Secretary for Foreign Affairs of Japan, and the Deputy Minister for External Relations of Brazil.

Other speakers were representatives of the Russian Federation, Lebanon, France, Mexico, China, Gabon and Turkey.

The meeting began 9:42 a.m. and ended at 12:45 p.m.

Presidential Statement

The full text of Presidential Statement S/PRST/2010/24 reads as follows:

“The Security Council emphasizes that the situation in Sudan represents one of the most urgent challenges facing the Council.

“The Security Council reaffirms its strong commitment to the sovereignty, independence, peace and stability of Sudan, and to a peaceful and prosperous future for all Sudanese people and underlines its support for the Sudanese parties’ full and timely implementation of the Comprehensive Peace Agreement (CPA), including the holding of the referenda on the self-determination of the people of Southern Sudan and on the status of Abyei and of the popular consultations in Southern Kordofan and Blue Nile, and for a peaceful, comprehensive and inclusive resolution of the situation of Darfur.

“The Security Council recalls that the Sudanese parties have full responsibility for the implementation of the CPA, reaffirms its support for and encourages their further efforts to that end and welcomes the leadership of the African Union (AU) and the support provided by the African Union High Level Panel (AUHIP), under the leadership of President Thabo Mbeki, and by Intergovernmental Authority on Development (IGAD). The Security Council recognises the parties’ commitment to CPA implementation, remains actively seized of the matter and expresses its readiness to act as necessary in support of full implementation of the CPA by the parties. The Council underlines the importance of close co-ordination between international actors involved in assisting the Sudanese peace processes.

“The Security Council urges the CPA parties, while working to make unity attractive and recognising the right to self determination of the people of Southern Sudan, to take urgent action to implement their commitment, reaffirmed at the High-Level Meeting on Sudan held in New York on 24 September to ensure peaceful, credible, timely and free referenda that reflect the will of the people of South Sudan and Abyei, as provided for in the CPA. In this regard, the Security Council welcomes the start of registration for the South Sudan referendum on 15 November and encourages further efforts to ensure that the referenda are held on 9 January 2011 in accordance with the CPA and as scheduled in the timeline published for the South Sudan Referendum by the South Sudan Referendum Commission (SSRC). The Security Council is concerned by the continued delays in releasing to the SSRC the full funding needed for preparations to continue to move forward. The Security Council calls on the parties and all Member States to respect the outcome of credible referenda, held in accordance with the CPA, that reflect the will of the people of Southern Sudan and Abyei. It requests all parties to refrain from unilateral action and to implement the CPA.

“The Security Council underlines the importance of the CPA parties making rapid progress on a way forward for Abyei’s referendum, outstanding CPA issues, and on resolving critical post-referendum issues in a peaceful, mutually beneficial manner, including the border, security, citizenship, debts, assets, currency and natural resources. In this context, the Security Council welcomes progress in the negotiations, led by President Mbeki, towards a ‘Framework for Resolving Outstanding Issues Relating to the Implementation of the Comprehensive Peace Agreement and the Future Relations of North and South Sudan’, on which agreement was reached on 13 November. The Security Council urges the parties to resume negotiations on Abyei expeditiously and to reach agreement on all outstanding issues without further delay.

“The Security Council underlines the need for the CPA parties to promote calm, including by providing immediate and ongoing reassurance to people of all nationalities in Sudan, including Southerners in the North and Northerners in the South, that their rights, safety and property will be respected whatever the outcome of the referenda. The Security Council calls for an immediate end to statements threatening the security of vulnerable populations. The Security Council also emphasises that protection of civilians is primarily the responsibility of the Sudanese authorities. The Security Council urges the parties to work actively with local leaders to mitigate tensions in Abyei and other border areas.

“The Security Council reaffirms its support for UNMIS and reiterates its call for all parties to co-operate fully with the mission in the discharge of its mandate in this crucial period, in particular by ensuring full, unhindered access, freedom of movement for UNMIS personnel and equipment, and for the delivery of referenda materials. The Security Council welcomes and encourages the UN’s work in contingency planning around the referenda and calls on Member States to support UNMIS’ efforts.

“The Security Council reaffirms its support for the UN Secretary General’s Panel for the Referenda led by President Benjamin Mkapa. The Security Council underlines the importance of close coordination between the Panel, all domestic and international observation missions.

“The Security Council underlines that, whatever the outcome of the referenda, continued co-operation between the CPA parties will remain essential for managing the transition process, implementing the post-referenda arrangements, and maintaining peace and prosperity, and stresses the mutual benefits of partnership in this regard. The Council encourages the international community to support these efforts. The Council urges the CPA parties to respect their obligations.

“The Security Council reaffirms its support for the AU-UN led peace process for Darfur, hosted by the State of Qatar, the work of Joint Chief Mediator Djibril Bassole and the principles guiding the negotiations. The Council strongly urges all rebel movements to join the peace process without further delay or preconditions, and all parties immediately to cease hostilities and engage constructively in negotiations with a view to finding a lasting peace in Darfur. The Security Council expresses concern about attacks on civilians by militias and calls for all support to such groups to cease. The Security Council expresses its willingness to consider measures against any party whose actions undermine peace in Darfur.

“The Security Council expresses deep concern about the increases in violence and insecurity in Darfur, including ceasefire violations, attacks by rebel groups, aerial bombardment by the Government of Sudan, increased inter-tribal fighting, and attacks on humanitarian personnel and peacekeepers, which have restricted humanitarian access to conflict areas where vulnerable populations reside. In this context, the Security Council calls on all parties to protect civilians and maintain full, safe and unhindered access for humanitarian workers to the population in need of assistance. The Security Council notes the need to support efforts to halt arms flows into Darfur in contravention of the arms embargo strengthened by resolution 1945 (2010). The Security Council recalls the importance it attaches to an end to impunity, and to justice for crimes committed in Darfur.

“The Security Council reaffirms its support for UNAMID and reiterates its call on the Government of the Sudan and all relevant parties to co-operate fully with the mission in discharging its mandate, and to provide full unhindered access and freedom of movement, as well as its call for an end to impunity for those who attack peacekeepers and humanitarian workers.

“The Security Council welcomes improved relations between Sudan and Chad and encourages them to co-operate further in order to contribute to peace and stability in Darfur and the wider region.

“The Security Council encourages full implementation of the Eastern Sudan Peace Agreement, including the provisions regarding rehabilitation, recovery and development and welcomes the initiative of the Government of Kuwait to hold a Conference on Investment and Development in Eastern Sudan in December 2010.

“The Security Council calls for respect for international law, international human rights law and humanitarian law; protection of freedom of expression; humanitarian access across Sudan, including in the border areas; and an end to all harassment of civil society. The Security Council underlines the importance of increased participation of women in the Sudanese peace processes.

“The Council notes the considerable humanitarian, early recovery and peacebuilding needs of Sudan and encourages the Sudanese authorities and international donors to fulfil their pledges to address them.

“The Security Council underlines that full and timely implementation of the CPA is essential to peace and stability in Sudan and the region and to future co-operation between Sudan and the international community, and recognises that enduring co-operation between the parties will be essential for the benefit of all Sudanese people. The Council affirms that the core objective of the international community and all stakeholders in Sudan is the peaceful co-existence of the people of Sudan, democratic governance, rule of law, accountability, equality, respect, human rights, justice and economic development, in particular the establishment of the conditions for conflict affected communities to build, strong, sustainable livelihoods.”

Background

Meeting at the ministerial-level this morning to consider the situation in Sudan, the Security Council was expected to hear briefings by the Secretary-General, the Head of the African Union High-Level Panel on Darfur, the Head of the United Nations Mission in the Sudan (UNMIS), and the Head of the African Union-United Nations Hybrid Operation in Darfur (UNAMID).  The last briefing on the subject was on 25 October (see Press Release SC/10069).

Council President WILLIAM HAGUE, Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs of the United Kingdom, read out the presidential statement.

Briefings

BAN KI-MOON, Secretary-General of the United Nations, opened the meeting by noting that it was taking place at a time of critical importance for the Sudanese people and the subregion.  In less than two months, the people of the South would exercise their right to vote on the future of their region, as provided for in the 2005 Comprehensive Peace Agreement (CPA).  With registration under way throughout Southern Sudan, in addition to 165 locations in the North and eight foreign countries, the Southern Sudan Referendum Commission deserved praise for that achievement, he observed, adding:  “With the commencement of this process, the referendum is on track.”

To ensure it was conducted in an orderly fashion, and that the Sudanese people accepted the outcome, it was imperative that the process be credible and transparent, reflecting the aspirations of the population, he emphasized.  Expressing concern about delays in the preparations, due in part to considerable national funding shortfalls, the Secretary-General called for the removal of all remaining obstacles so the Commission could finance its operations as well as appoint, train and deploy personnel, while taking key decisions without delay.  The international community stood ready to provide further assistance, with UNMIS providing technical and logistical support, UNAMID contributing aviation assets and the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) helping to procure materials and out-of-country voting.

Recalling that he had established a panel to monitor the referenda for Southern Sudan and the Abyei area, chaired by former President Benjamin Mkapa of the United Republic of Tanzania, he said it was in Sudan to monitor the first week of registration.  In addition, the humanitarian community had developed a contingency plan to provide timely assistance in the event of violence, but $63 million was needed to pre-position such aid near potential hot spots, as there was also a need for assured access to the contested border areas.  The Council’s support would be welcome in that regard, he added.  Notwithstanding such support, however, “the referenda are Sudanese processes”, he stressed, adding that international commitment could not supplant the willingness of the parties to meet their responsibilities.

“The Government of Sudan, the Government of Southern Sudan and the Referenda Commissions must rise to this challenge,” he stressed, recalling that both parties to the CPA had reiterated their responsibility for organizing and conducting the referenda and preserving security.  The Secretary-General also emphasized in that regard that the protection of Southern Sudanese living in the North and of northerners living in the South was of major concern.  So too was a potential return to the suffering seen during the long war between the two regions.  Welcoming the recent statement by the Governments of Sudan and Southern Sudan that “a return to war is not an option”, he cautioned that hostile public statements and accusations of ceasefire violations only heightened anxiety.

Secretary-General Ban went on to underscore the especially high potential for unintentional conflict in Abyei, where the Misseriya people would soon begin their annual southward migration.  The presence of United Nations troops would not be enough to prevent a return to war, should hostilities erupt, he warned, urging the parties to uphold the CPA’s ceasefire mechanisms and reassure the population of their willingness to work together.  To that end, talks on post-referendum arrangements were vital, and particularly acute in Abyei, where confusion and fear about post-referendum citizenship, grazing rights, water access and the sharing of oil revenues were contributing to a “political and security minefield”.  It was encouraging that the parties were discussing those and other issues through negotiations facilitated by the African Union High-Level Implementation Panel on Sudan, he said, calling for a break to the deadlock on Abyei.

Turning to Darfur, he said the Joint Chief Mediator, with support from Qatar and others, was consulting the parties regarding possible compromises on outstanding issues, most notably the region’s administrative status.  The Doha settlement had been designed so that the Justice and Equality Movement (JEM) and the Sudan Liberation Army-Abdul Wahid (SLA-AW) faction could join the process.  However, he expressed deep concern about the impact of renewed clashes between the JEM and the Sudanese Armed Forces, as well as continued hostilities between Government troops and the SLA-AW in Jebel Marra, and underlined again the urgent need for full access to eastern Jebel Marra.  “The disturbing implication of this fighting is that the parties have not yet decided to give up the military path,” he noted.  As such, he requested the Council to encourage the Government and movements to show flexibility as the Joint Chief Mediator searched with them for a compromise.

He went on to point out that for any accord to gain traction inside Darfur, it must address the roots of the conflict and end the region’s marginalization, which required concessions on power and wealth-sharing, as well as efforts to address questions of truth and reconciliation.  The Council should encourage movements outside the peace process to show commitment to a successful outcome in Doha and urge support for the subsequent work to generate popular consensus on the terms of peace, he said.  The Secretary-General also requested the Council to encourage the Government of Sudan to address local demands for security, notably in relation to impunity, and to respect the civil and political rights of Darfur’s people.  He called on Sudan to act in accordance with the Council decision outlined in resolution 1593 (2005).

“The coming months are likely to be difficult for the people of Sudan and the international community engaged there,” Secretary-General Ban said, emphasizing that the referendum had the potential to change Sudan’s future and send “shockwaves” through the region.  Momentous as it might appear, however, the referendum was but one element of an agreement that had ended a bitter war, he pointed out.  The parties must recognize that the vision of a new Sudan outlined in the CPA was as valid today as it had been half decade ago, regardless of the referendum’s outcome.  By renewing the trust achieved in 2005, the parties could develop productive models of association and cooperation that could have a “seminal and positive impact for the final resolution of the conflict in Darfur.”  Underscoring the Council’s essential role, he urged delegates to help build bridges between the North and South, and to ensure that fundamental imbalances fuelling conflict elsewhere in Sudan were addressed.

THABO MBEKI, Chairperson, African Union High-level Implementation Panel on Sudan and the African Union High-level Panel on Darfur, confirmed via video link that registration for the referendum in Southern Sudan had started yesterday.  The political parties had agreed to ensure a free and fair referendum and had committed themselves to respect the outcome.  The Panel was in close contact with the Referendum Commission, UNMIS and the Government of Sudan, among others.  It was also negotiating a solution to the Abyei matter and would do everything possible to reach agreement.  The Ad Hoc Protocol Commission would convene immediately to discuss demarcation of the North-South border, he said, noting that the ruling National Congress Party and the Sudan People’s Liberation Movement were ready to begin discussions on the five disputed areas along that boundary.

The parties remained committed to maintaining peace, he continued, adding that UNMIS was involved in all matters relating to security.  Negotiations on post-referendum arrangements had been launched and the parties had engaged on issues of security, borders, citizenship, oil and water resources, currency matters, assets and liabilities, as well as international treaties and agreements.  He said he was concerned, however, that the negotiations were not progressing at a satisfactory pace, and the Panel would therefore meet at the end of November to better coordinate them.  A recent meeting between the parties had agreed on principles that would guide their work on all issues, regardless of the referendum’s outcome.

Turning to the situation in Darfur, he said the recent clashes between Government forces and the JEM underlined the need urgently to establish peace in the region.  The Panel and UNAMID, supported by the Government of Qatar, would meet ahead of the Southern Sudan referendum to initiate a political process with a view to convening an inclusive forum that would base its discussions on the outcome of the Doha negotiations.  The Conference would take the decisions that would contribute to the earliest possible conclusion of a Darfur Global Political Agreement.

He called on the Government of Sudan to take all necessary action, in cooperation with UNAMID, to improve the security situation, facilitate voluntary returns by refugees and internally displaced persons to their places of origin and to begin addressing issues of recovery, development, justice and reconciliation.  He urged the Council to convey a firm message of encouragement to President Omer al-Bashir and First Vice-President Salva Kiir as they worked over the next few months, which would be critical in determining the future of Sudan and Africa.

ALI AHMED KARTI, Minister for Foreign Affairs of Sudan, expressed hope that today’s deliberations would help the parties achieve a peace that would ensure sustainable security.  “The referendum is a commitment that is to be honoured and we are willing to honour it,” he said, adding that the decision to allow the South its right to self-determination, as outlined in the CPA, was among the more daring decisions taken in Africa.  Aimed at ending civil war and solving a protracted conflict, it was also among the most daring national decisions since independence, he said, emphasizing that the Government must be appreciated, not pressured or maligned.  He renewed his Government’s commitment to hold the referendum as scheduled and to accept the results, whether for unity or secession.

The Government’s goal was to settle pending issues peacefully, he said, adding that the referendum should offer a prelude to a “bright future for the South and North alike”.  Recalling the agreement that the parties to the CPA would provide 40 per cent of funding for the South Sudan Referendum Commission and the international community 60 per cent, he said the Government had fulfilled its commitment by providing $8.5 million as a first stage.  It had started its payments even before the Commission had prepared the referendum budget and would honour its commitments each time the Commission provided a schedule of costs.  It had paid its dues in full, he said, calling on donors also to honour their commitments.

Turning to the question of Abyei, he said:  “We’re talking about two ethnic groups that have co-existed from time immemorial.”  The issue was not oil but the inalienable rights of two of Sudan’s largest ethnic groups, which required being “inspired by wisdom” to maintain stability in the region.  The Government understood that an accepted settlement was the goal, and did not wish to impose a solution, which would only lead to more conflict.  It was to be hoped that the Council would take a comprehensive approach to the question of Abyei and other outstanding CPA issues.

He said the Government continued to address questions of wealth, citizenship and security, as well as international agreements, noting that he had just participated in a meeting in Austria, where the Government had discussed post-referendum arrangements with the SPLM.  Both sides had agreed that integration should continue regardless of the referendum’s results.  As for progress towards a framework agreement for the North and South, he said an historic accord had been reached yesterday on strategic issues, notably a determination not to return to war.  It set forth a relationship in which peace would prevail and both sides would work for a better tomorrow.  The international community’s duty was no less onerous, he cautioned, adding that translating the agreement into action would require continued encouragement as well as resources.

Concerning Darfur, the Government had always been the first to seek negotiations in the interest of peace and security, he said, citing the Doha mediation efforts and those undertaken by Joint Chief Mediator Djibril Bassole.  “Peace in Darfur is our priority and a strategic objective of the Government,” he emphasized, adding that the Government needed a partner to negotiate in good faith and outline a clear vision for peace.  The much-reported positions of two rebel leaders choosing the military option, as opposed to the political process in Doha, might require the Council to send a message to both sides to return to the table, he said, emphasizing that the Government could not return to “arrogant” positions unrelated to people’s hopes for Darfur.  He noted also that attacks against peacekeepers and the taking of hostages only aimed to push the Government towards military confrontation.

He said the Government, in cooperation with UNAMID, had adopted a strategy to prioritize quick-impact projects, and among the mission’s first duties was to help implement them.  The Council could help in the direct implementation of such projects, which would allow refugees and internally displaced persons to return home and resume their normal lives in more than 90 per cent of Darfur.  The Government had focused on building roads, bridges and other public facilities, he said, expressing hope that the Council would launch an appeal for partners to contribute to those efforts.

Development must be promoted by implementing projects on the ground, including with local communities, which would facilitate balanced development and provide resources for shepherds in the area, he said.  The new strategy also prioritized fighting impunity on the part of those targeting peacekeepers and humanitarian workers, an effort that would not cease until such “saboteurs” were brought to justice.  It was a difficult task since they hid behind rebel movements, he noted.  He called on the Council to reconsider resolution 1593 (2005), which had “opened the door of evil” by targeting Sudan’s leadership.  As for the peace process, the National Unity Government had worked to implement the CPA on the ground and was organizing a conference for donors and investors in Kuwait.

PAGAN AMUM, Secretary-General, Sudan People’s Liberation Movement (SPLM), underlined that the Government of Southern Sudan would never waver in its commitment to implement the CPA, adding that signing the accord had been the key to ending the civil war and its full implementation the guarantee of lasting peace in Sudan.  The core of the Agreement was the holding of two self-determination referenda, in Southern Sudan and Abyei, he said, welcoming the beginning of voter-registration in the South yesterday, for which the turnout had been “impressive and peaceful”.

“It is essential that all parties hear an emphatic and firm message from the Council today that the referendum must be conducted on time, its results respected, and that the parties […] fully cooperate to this end,” he stressed.  The Government of Southern Sudan was making sure that every logistical arrangement was in place, and asked Council members to use their good offices to ensure that the Government of Sudan did the same.  “In the end it is for the people of Southern Sudan to decide and determine their future, choosing between unity and secession,” he said.

“Any intimidation or harassment of those campaigning for separation or unity in the South or the North should not be tolerated,” he continued, noting that all signs pointed to the probability of a vote in favour of independence.  He called on the Council and all Member States to respect their choice, and on the Monitoring Panel to be proactive in raising any issue with the parties to ensure the vote would be free and fair, and that the result reflected the people’s will.  The Panel should authenticate the result quickly to ensure stability and a smooth transition, he said, adding that the Government of Southern Sudan stood ready to negotiate and agree final post-referendum arrangements.

He said the Government had just negotiated a framework agreement with its northern partners on the general principles that would govern the future relationship between South and North as two sovereign States if the people of Southern Sudan chose separation.  “The people and Government of Southern Sudan strongly desire a peaceful and collaborative relationship between the South and the North — a relationship that benefits and protects all of our peoples,” he said.  “Even though the people of Southern Sudan may choose to secede, we shall always remain neighbours and we have no choice but to be good neighbours.  Both North and South must be viable entities or States that cooperate for the mutual benefit of their peoples.”

One issue of crucial importance was the question of citizenship rights, he said, reiterating in that regard that the rights of all Northern Sudanese in the South would be fully respected and protected, as would their property rights and those of foreign individuals and corporations.  “No Northern Sudanese rights will be violated or activities obstructed, regardless of the outcome of the referendum.  All we ask is that the rights and livelihoods of Southern Sudanese in the North be treated in exactly the same way,” he said.  Border demarcation was another issue, he said, noting that the Government of Southern Sudan had agreed to demarcate the areas of the North-South border and to settle other disputes through dialogue and negotiations.  “If we cannot reach a solution jointly, we have agreed that we will have recourse to binding international arbitration and no return to conflict.”

Abyei was another critical outstanding issue, he said, calling on the Council to support full implementation of the Abyei Protocol and the Permanent Court of Arbitration ruling on the Abyei boundaries.  Recently, the parties had agreed that the Presidency of Sudan would determine a final agreement on Abyei, he recalled, expressing hope that the matter would be agreed by the end of the month.  There were two options, he said, one being a referendum in which members of the Ngok Dinka community would vote on whether to remain a part of the North or to rejoin the South, and the other involving the transfer of Abyei to the South by presidential decree.

“We know that we cannot change our geography,” he said in conclusion.  “The referenda may change the nature of the relationship between the South and the North, but whatever happens, we shall remain committed to a peaceful, stable and prosperous future for the people of Sudan, whether in one country or as two separate States.”  In the South, all political parties had reaffirmed yesterday their full support for a road map providing for a stable and democratic dispensation in Southern Sudan, and peaceful development for its people in the post-referendum period.  To the National Congress Party, he said:  “Please join us in a politics of peace, reconciliation, mutual benefit and respect.  Let us together present a good example for our Sudanese peoples, Africa and the world.”

Statements

Mr. HAGUE, Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs of the United Kingdom, spoke in his national capacity, saying “this is a defining moment for Sudan and its people”.  Indeed, it was a period of great risk that the Council could not ignore, but also a time of opportunity to achieve greater stability in Sudan.  It was vital that the international community stand united in support of the CPA, he stressed, noting that everyone was only too conscious of the tragedy of Sudan’s past:  more than 50 years of suffering, more than 2 million people dead and millions displaced — in the South, in Darfur as well as eastern Sudan and other marginalized areas.  However, a stable Sudan would contribute to rebuilding security and prosperity, and mean that the country did not again become a base for terrorism, or a source of refugees fleeing to neighbouring countries.  “Most importantly, it will help the Sudanese people receive the tangible benefits of peace that have eluded them for so long.”

With the final preparations for the referenda under way, and early signs suggesting it was progressing in an orderly manner, the United Kingdom was also encouraged by recent political talks between the parties, he said, noting that success depended on the parties themselves.  Both sides had made concessions in recent weeks, he recalled, adding:  “I do not underestimate how difficult this process is for the parties.”  However, there were no remaining differences over key issues that could not be bridged, he stressed, adding that his country would continue to support President Mbeki’s efforts for an accord, which must include agreement on Abyei as a matter of urgency, in light of rising tensions there.  He urged parties to work with communities on the ground to ensure that that their rights would be protected, whatever political agreement was reached, and called on the North and South to ensure that military deployments did not contribute to instability.

For its part, the global community must be ready to work on the long-term issues affecting each side beyond the referendum, he emphasized, adding that his country had taken the lead role in handling Sudan’s international debt while the African Union played a vital role in helping the North and South bridge their differences.  With more than 30,000 peacekeepers on the ground in Darfur, the South and along the border, the United Nations was central to international efforts in Sudan, and the United Kingdom welcomed the Organization’s plans to prepare for referendum-related humanitarian contingencies.  In Darfur, there was a need for intensive work with the parties for a peaceful and inclusive political settlement, and to address violence, especially by combating impunity.  The United Kingdom was ready to play its role in helping achieve a secure future for Sudan.

HILLARY RODHAM CLINTON, Secretary of State of the United States, said it was critical for Sudan, its neighbours and the rest of Africa that the referendum be held peacefully on 9 January.  Regardless of the outcome, the will of the people must be respected by all parties, in Sudan and around the world.  “We have already seen the unacceptable alternative,” she said, recalling more than four decades of conflict that had left 2 million people dead and millions displaced.  In the next 55 days, the Government of Sudan could ensure a brighter future, but there was a “huge” amount of work to be done and each State must do its utmost to help.  “None of us should look back and wish that we had done more,” she stressed.

Yet, no outsider could dictate events on the ground, she said, adding that it was up to the political leaders and people of Sudan whether they chose peace or confrontation.  It had been heartening to see the defence ministers from Khartoum and Juba hold a rare joint press conference last week to say there would be no return to war, she said, emphasizing that to fulfil that pledge, the North and South must promptly forge agreements on oil-revenue distribution, border demarcation, international treaties, security arrangements, citizenship rights and civilian protection.  Most urgently, the parties must make tough compromises to settle the status of Abyei and uphold the rights of both the Ngok Dinka and other residents of the area, in addition to those of nomadic peoples who regularly passed through it.  Without a mutually acceptable agreement for the people of Abyei, the United States would continue to hold the parties to their commitment to an on-time referendum, she stressed.

Moreover, the United States was deeply concerned about Darfur, where human rights violations continued, arms flowed and journalists were arrested, some merely for speaking to members of the Security Council, she said, emphasizing:  “This is all unacceptable”.  She called on the parties to participate in the Doha talks without preconditions, and urged the Government not to target civilians, use proxy militia, support the Janjaweed or prevent free movement by aid workers.  In Darfur and elsewhere, the Government must live up to its obligations to uphold human rights, allow humanitarian assistance, protect civilians, ensure that refugees and internally displaced people could return safely and bring those responsible for atrocities to justice.  In the twenty-first century, universal rules and values must be upheld, she said, calling on officials in both the North and South to avoid inflammatory rhetoric, allow unfettered campaigning by all sides and ensure that voters could safely travel to polling places.

Discussing progress, she said nearly 33,000 voter-registration books had been delivered and another 350,000 had been shipped.  Election observers were being trained, and the Russian Federation had committed to providing four helicopters to assist UNMIS.  However, more must be done, and in planning the way forward, it was essential to include women, she said, emphasizing their critical importance to every step of building, negotiating and keeping the peace.  The underlying issues of conflict were less likely to be resolved if women were not at the table, she said, expressing hope that they would be brought into the highest levels of Government in both the North and South.

She said her country had engaged in intensive diplomacy for peace in Sudan, having spent more than $200 million to help mitigate conflict, provide security for elections and fund voter registration, among other things.  The United States Government had sent Special Envoy Scott Gration, among others, to try to raise its profile in Southern Sudan, and this month, the Chair of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee had travelled to Khartoum with the message that, if Sudan chose the path of peace, the Government could have a “dramatically improved” ties with the United States, including normalization of relations.  If it chose conflict, however, the Government would face consequences in the form of additional pressure and deeper isolation.  To show its commitment, the United States had changed its policies to ease the sale of agriculture and irrigation equipment to Sudan, she said, adding that it had supported the creation of a group to work on easing Sudan’s national debt, in line with international debt-relief practice.

“We are prepared to do much more”, she continued, emphasizing that if the Government fulfilled its CPA obligations, resolved the future of Abyei, held the referendum on 9 January, and recognized the will of the Southern Sudanese, the United States would begin a process to withdraw Sudan from its list of State sponsors of terrorism.  If Sudan committed itself to a peaceful resolution of the conflict in Darfur, the United States would be willing to offer a path to ending sanctions, increase trade and investment and forge a mutually beneficial relationship.  Indeed, it would take skill and courage for leaders in the North and South to implement the CPA and work towards durable peace, including in Darfur, she said, adding:  “The world will stand with both of you if you can and do take these steps.”

MICHAEL SPINDELEGGER, Minister for Foreign Affairs of Austria, cited the common goals of lasting peace and stability, strengthening justice and the rule of law, and protecting civilians in Sudan.  Recent months had seen important developments, including national elections and a marked improvement in relations between Sudan and Chad.  Though implementation of the CPA had become “laborious”, Austria trusted that the parties would fulfil their commitments to implement it, especially in undertaking credible referenda and abiding by their outcomes.

He recalled that, at last week’s conference in Vienna, high-level participants from the North and South had shown consensus on one core point:  that whatever the outcome, both regions must strive for a mutually beneficial co-existence.  Progress was needed in the preparations for the referendum in Abyei and for the popular consultations in Blue Nile and Southern Kordofan states, he noted, expressing hope that negotiations on the post-referendum phase would soon yield substantive results.  Austria had discussed its offer of technical expertise in the area of citizenship with interlocutors from the North and South in October, and was ready to work with both sides in an open manner, he said.

Contingency planning by UNMIS was also important, he said, welcoming the implementation of the Comprehensive Strategy on the Protection of Civilians in that regard.  Freedom of movement was crucial in enabling the Mission to fulfil its tasks, and its participation in the regional strategy for protecting civilians from attacks by the Lords Resistance Army was essential in that regard.  As for Darfur, Austria was deeply concerned about continuing insecurity there, he said, condemning the abduction of peacekeepers and violence against civilians in and around camps for internally displaced persons.  “We urge all parties to allow free access to everyone in need of humanitarian assistance,” he said.

The safe and voluntary return of internally displaced people in Darfur must be assured and while the Government’s new strategy for the region was a welcome step, all parties must engage fully in the peace process without preconditions.  In that context, he underscored the need for women’s full participation in peace negotiations, in line with resolution 1325 (2000).  Strongly supporting efforts by the Joint Chief Mediator and the African Union High-level Panel, Austria also strongly supported work to enhance mechanisms for the promotion of justice, accountability and reconciliation, notably the International Criminal Court, he said.  “The primary responsibility to act lies with both partners of the Government of National Unity of Sudan.”

SVEN ALKALAJ, Minister for Foreign Affairs of Bosnia and Herzegovina, said the parties to the CPA had implemented many of its provisions, and it was therefore of crucial importance that they fulfil its final provisions, including those on the self-determination referenda for Southern Sudan and the status of Abyei, on time and in full.  It was also of utmost importance that the parties redouble their efforts to address outstanding issues, he said, stressing that open negotiations on post-referendum arrangements, including border management, citizenship, migration and security, were essential.

Concerned that referendum preparations were behind schedule, he said the situation regarding the Abyei vote was even more urgent.  The parties must immediately address the matter of establishing the Abyei Referendum Commission and give due consideration to contingency planning for the transitional post-referendum period.  The humanitarian situation in Southern Sudan also deserved the full attention of the international community, which should not neglect the need for extensive development of the governance capacities of the Government of Southern Sudan, regardless of the referendum’s outcome.

Turning to Darfur, he said all parties must seize the opportunity offered by the Doha peace process to join the negotiations without preconditions or further delays.  In the absence of an alternative to sustainable peace, the international community must exert pressure on those refusing to do so.  It was essential to continue working towards a comprehensive solution that would include a ceasefire and security arrangements, fair representation at all levels of Government, reconciliation and economic development.  “There is no doubt that the forthcoming period bears extremely high risks but also offers opportunities,” he said.

HENRY ODEIN AJUMOGOBIA, Minister for Foreign Affairs of Nigeria, said the international community should sustain the momentum required to anchor the final and most crucial component of the CPA, namely the referenda.  Sudan was at a critical crossroads, with assessments indicating that the people of Southern Sudan would vote overwhelmingly for independence.  That raised the prospect of unilateral action, but on the other hand, postponing the referendum might lead to renewed fighting, given the limited time left, he said, warning that neither Sudan nor the international community could afford a renewed conflict that would destabilize the region and undo the progress achieved since 2005.  He therefore urged the Sudanese Armed Forces and the Sudan People’s liberation Army (SPLA) to cease all military activities and remain committed to the permanent ceasefire agreement, cautioning that neither a postponement of the referendum nor a unilateral declaration of independence would serve the cause of international peace and security, he emphasized.

In order to bolster confidence in the voting process, the parties should use the remaining period to address the outstanding core issues fuelling uncertainly, such as insecurity and disagreements over the workings, composition and funding of the South Sudan Referendum Commission.  Given the limited time available, a failure by donors to fulfil their pledges was one of the greatest impediments to implementation of the referenda timetables, including the ongoing registration of voters.  There was also a need for contingency planning at the country and international levels to guarantee stability, protect civilians and forestall violence, he said, urging all stakeholders, including civil society, to integrate the various contingency plans with practical implementation strategies.  Local communities should be involved in the planning and implementation of the contingency arrangements.

A framework agreement on post-referendum arrangement should be concluded on issues such as border demarcation, citizenship and residency, natural resources, oil and economic cooperation, grazing rights and security, he said.  Progress on those issues before the referenda was not only desirable, but also necessary to avoid post-referendum conflict.  A comprehensive peace agreement should be pursued with renewed vigour in Darfur to ensure sustainable peace and development in Sudan, he said, adding that the JEM — which was back in Doha to discuss conditions for resuming negotiations — and the SLA-AW faction should end their boycott and fully rejoin the talks.  Early recovery and development initiatives would contribute meaningfully to efforts to find a lasting solution to the conflict in Darfur.

OKELLO HENRY ORYEM, Minister for Foreign Affairs in charge of International Affairs of Uganda, said the international community, and the region in particular, was following developments in Sudan with keen interest.  The referendum in Southern Sudan, scheduled for 9 January, was a critical milestone in the implementation of the CPA, and it was important that it take place on time and in a free, fair and transparent manner.  However, concrete steps were also important in ensuring a credible outcome.  In that regard, both parties should exercise maximum restraint in the lead-up to the referendum, and the international community should fulfil its financial pledges and provide the necessary logistical support.

He said that while his country was pleased with the progress made by the Southern Sudan Referendum Commission so far, particularly with the start of voter registration yesterday, Uganda remained concerned about the lack of progress in organizing the Abyei referendum, especially the failure to establish the Abyei Referendum Commission.  It was also important that the parties accord equal attention to the popular consultations in Blue Nile and Southern Kordofan states and to post-referendum agreements in Southern Sudan.  Uganda welcomed the efforts of the African Union High-Level Implementation Panel in bringing the parties together to negotiate a framework agreement on outstanding CPA-related issues, and urged the parties to make full use of that mechanism.  It further welcomed the 28 October decision by the African Union Peace and Security Council to extend the Panel’s mandate for another year.

Noting that the security situation in Darfur remained fragile, he expressed concern about continuing hostilities, violence and kidnappings, as well as restrictions on the movements of UNAMID staff and peacekeepers, and humanitarian workers.  Nevertheless Uganda commended the efforts of the Joint Chief Mediator in facilitating the ongoing Doha peace negotiations, as well as the participation of all stakeholders.  It also welcomed the meeting between the JEM and the Mediation Team in Doha, and urged all rebel groups that had not yet done so to join the Doha talks.  Uganda called finally upon the parties to remain committed, and the international community to render its total support to ensure full implementation of the CPA.

TAKEAKI MATSUMOTO, State Secretary for Foreign Affairs of Japan, said that in order to realize peace between the North and South, it was necessary for the parties first and foremost to advance implementation of the CPA with strong will and determination.  The most important task was now to conduct the referenda on 9 January, as scheduled, and in a free and fair manner, a process the Council and the international community must see through firmly and attentively.  UNMIS would play a great role in that regard, alongside with the High-level Panel.  It was essential that all interested parties accept the results of the referenda, regardless of the outcomes.  The parties must also be encouraged to continue their dialogue, so that the dividends of political stability could be enjoyed by all.

“Peace cannot be achieved in Sudan without stability in Darfur,” he said, strongly urging all parties there to joint the peace process.  UNAMID must be enabled to pursue its mission, including its mandate to protect civilians, with greater effectiveness.  The international community must continue actively to support Sudan’s efforts to build peace, he said, noting that his country had given assistance amounting to some $440 million since the signing of the CPA.  “ Japan will continue its appeals to the Sudanese parties to realize that efforts to build mutual trust through a spirit of cooperation and partnership will form the true foundation for lasting peace and a bright future for Sudan,” he said.

TAKEAKI MATSUMOTO, State Secretary for Foreign Affairs of Japan, said that in order to realize peace between the North and South, it was necessary for the parties first and foremost to advance implementation of the CPA with strong will and determination.  The most important task was now to conduct the referenda on 9 January, as scheduled, and in a free and fair manner, a process the Council and the international community must see through firmly and attentively.  UNMIS would play a great role in that regard, alongside with the High-level Panel.  It was essential that all interested parties accept the results of the referenda, regardless of the outcomes.  The parties must also be encouraged to continue their dialogue, so that the dividends of political stability could be enjoyed by all.

“Peace cannot be achieved in Sudan without stability in Darfur,” he said, strongly urging all parties there to join the peace process.  UNAMID must be enabled to pursue its mission, including its mandate to protect civilians, with greater effectiveness.  The international community must continue actively to support Sudan’s efforts to build peace, he said, noting that his country had given assistance amounting to some $440 million since the signing of the CPA.  “ Japan will continue its appeals to the Sudanese parties to realize that efforts to build mutual trust through a spirit of cooperation and partnership will form the true foundation for lasting peace and a bright future for Sudan,” he said.

ANTONIO DE AGUIAR PATRIOTA, Deputy Minister for External Relations of Brazil, while noting that Sudan presented a major challenge to the Security Council, and that peace in the country remained essential to the future of the African continent, cautioned against interference in matters that only the Sudanese people could decide, even though the international community had important obligations to fulfil in support of the CPA.  With the approach of the accord’s final phase, it was appropriate for the Security Council to keep the situation in Sudan high on its agenda because helping to ensure peace and stability at the present critical juncture was an imperative derived from the very purpose of the United Nations.

He said that in addition to the primary concern of ensuring peace and stability while avoiding making a complex situation worse, the international community’s goal was to ensure that the referenda were conducted in a cooperative atmosphere and in a timely, free and fair manner.  Above all, it was crucial to ensure that the aftermath of the referenda was peaceful.  Calling for the provision of adequate resources to UNMIS so that the Mission could effectively maintain security in its area of operation, particularly Abyei, he expressed confidence that the Sudanese leadership would rise to the challenge of overcoming mistrust and reach the compromises needed to promote reconciliation while further strengthening social and economic ties with their immediate neighbours. 

Furthermore, regardless of the results of the referenda, mediation support and peacebuilding efforts by the United Nations would have to be undertaken in cooperation with Sudanese authorities, he said, adding that possible tasks in that regard would include monitoring wealth-sharing arrangements, institutional development and development assistance.  A comprehensive peacebuilding strategy would also have to be discussed with the Sudanese, he said, adding that the Council could wish to consider, at an appropriate time, the role that the Peacebuilding Commission could play in that regard.  In order to achieve durable peace, efforts by both the international community and the Sudanese people must aim to overcome poverty, foster social and economic development, and ensure respect for human rights.  In that regard, Brazil stood ready to contribute to Sudan’s economic and institutional development and to improvements in the living standards of its people, he said.  That was evidenced by bilateral trade, which had grown significantly over the last few years, particularly in agriculture and biofuels, where new partnerships were being created.

VITALY CHURKIN ( Russian Federation) said his country would respect any outcome of the referendum, a process which would pave the way for Sudan’s transition to a new level of development.  Urging the parties to continue their bilateral work to implement their obligations, he welcomed the peaceful and organized start of the voter-registration process, noting that the High-level Panel work would help the parties achieve progress in border demarcation, revenue sharing, citizenship and international legal documents, among other issues.

He said the plebiscite in Abyei must resolve issues in Blue Nile and Southern Kodofan states, adding that the Government must help prevent the growth of inter-ethnic conflict.  As for Darfur, he said the Doha process must be comprehensive, and called for the main rebel groups to be brought on board, including those who doggedly remained outside the negotiations.  A political agreement should give impetus to implementation of the CPA, he said, emphasizing that the Russian Federation respected Sudan’s sovereignty and would continue to assist in the search for a settlement, notably through its decision to deploy an additional helicopter unit.

NAWAF SALAM ( Lebanon) said Sudan was at a decisive point with the referenda just two months away, and reiterated in that context the importance of direct dialogue between the parties.  He welcomed Mr. Mbeki’s remark that a framework agreement had been reached on borders between the North and South, among other issues, which would allow for the free movement of people and a peaceful transition after the referendum.  Indeed, the agreement provided the basis for dealing with many subjects, including oil revenues, water resources and debt.  Lebanon welcomed the commitment of both parties to implement the CPA and not return to civil war.

Cooperation between the North and South was unavoidable, he said, expressing hope that agreement would also be reached on the Abyei region.  He also welcomed the start of voter registration and the launch of the electoral campaign.  Concerning Darfur, he expressed concern about the recent military confrontations in the Kordofan region, as well as hope that efforts by the Government of Qatar and the Joint Chief Mediator would lead to a return to the negotiation table by the JEM and the SLA-AW faction in the interest of reaching an agreement as soon as possible.  He applauded the improved relations between Sudan and Chad.

GÉRARD ARAUD (France) said the CPA should be implemented in its entirety, including the holding of the referendum in South Sudan under appropriate conditions on 9 January.  The establishment of the Referendum Commission was a first step.  Irrespective of the outcome, the South should be able to live in peace with the North, he said, emphasizing that the cost of concessions was lower than the gains of peace.  The question of Abyei must be solved as soon as possible, he said, noting that the European Union had started deploying its observers on the ground yesterday.

Turning to Darfur, he said full attention must be paid to finding a political solution, the need for which was inescapable.  It was unacceptable that the two main rebel groups remained outside the peace process.  Urging them to rejoin the negotiations, he said a refusal to do so would amount to rejecting peace and encouraging war.  It would be a crime, he added.  UNAMID must pursue its efforts to protect civilians, he continued, expressing concern that the Mission had been unable to meet its goals in that regard.  Restrictions on its movements and attacks on its personnel must stop.  There could be no peace without justice in Darfur and crimes committed there could not go unpunished, he stressed, calling for cooperation with the International Criminal Court in that regard.

CLAUDE HELLER (Mexico), noting that Sudan’s future depended on the promptness and effectiveness of the decisions that its leaders would take, urged them to overcome lack of trust and finalize arrangements for outstanding issues — including the question of Abyei — as soon as possible.  Underlining the importance of stepping up preparations for the referendum, he said the necessary funding should be made available, and welcomed the beginning of voter registration as a step in the right direction, as well as the continuing assistance by UNMIS in the logistical and security preparations for the referendum.  He underscored the importance of protecting civilians and ensuring unrestricted access of humanitarian assistance, while urging the parties to remove any restrictions on the movement of United Nations missions and humanitarian organizations.

Given that the international community must be prepared to react expeditiously to any event that might occur, Mexico was ready to consider any relevant action by the Council, he said, stressing that the security conditions in Darfur underlined the need for the presence of all parties at the negotiation table.  There was a pressing need to deal with impunity and to punish perpetrators of crimes appropriately, he said, emphasizing that the Government had international obligations in that regard, including adherence to Council resolution 1593 (2005).  Today’s message from the Council was simple:  returning to armed conflict was not an option.  He therefore called on parties to assume their responsibilities as the only option for bringing peace and stability to Sudan.

LI BAODONG ( China), recalling that the signing of the CPA had ended decades of conflict between the North and South, said its implementation would guarantee long-term peace.  The referendum was a key step in the CPA’s implementation and China hoped it would be implemented in a transparent and fair manner, reflecting the will of the Sudanese people.  The North and South must speed up preparations for the referendum, he said, calling on the global community to create the conditions for holding it and to refrain from prejudging its outcome.  China also hoped the North and South would continue to engage in dialogue on an equal footing in order to reach early agreement on border demarcation, oil distribution and other issues.

He said his country supported a peaceful settlement in Darfur, including in determining its root causes.  With that in mind, China called for the promotion of a double-track approach that would include a political process, he said, adding that the lack of political progress was a most serious challenge, and urging those parties that had yet to do so to join the negotiations without preconditions.  Expressing United Nations efforts to seek an appropriate solution to the question of Darfur, he said he hoped the international community would maker a greater contribution to reconstruction and development in the region.  China, for its part, had decided to donate an additional $500,000 to the trust fund for the political process, he said.

EMMANUEL ISSOZE-NGONDET ( Gabon) emphasized the need to consolidate a climate of trust, notably by respecting the timetable for holding the referenda and by pushing forward the negotiations on post-referendum arrangements.  He welcomed the undertakings by the parties to promote good-neighbourly relations between the North and the South, adding that a climate of trust would benefit from a meeting of the parties at the highest level to reach agreement on all points, including Abyei.  A transparent vote meant that all electoral and security tools must be mastered, he said, describing the South Sudan Referendum Commission and the launch of the voter-registration process as representing significant progress.

Given that tensions might occur over border demarcation and population movements, he called for an exploration of all possible measures to cope with such an eventuality, recalling that during the Second Consultative Forum on Sudan, the parties had agreed to establish working committees by the end of the year to discuss such issues with a view to making progress on post-referendum arrangements.  Preparations for the referendum on Abyei had made little progress, with difficulties in implementing the Abyei Protocol, he noted, encouraging the parties to establish the Abyei Referendum Commission and speed up talks on pending issues.  On Darfur, he said agreement must be reached by year-end and be as inclusive as possible.  Gabon was satisfied with the JEM’s efforts in that regard.  Past fears must give way to aspirations for Sudan’s future, he stressed, reiterating that the Sudanese authorities must meet that challenge.

ERTUĞRUL APAKAN (Turkey) said that since the parties to the CPA had stayed the course in working peacefully together over the past five years, all efforts must now be focused on the holding of free and fair referenda, the outcome of which must be respected by all parties.  Although separation was a legitimate choice, its implementation would be difficult, he said, emphasizing, however, that Sudan’s future was in the hands of the Sudanese people and their will would point the way forward.  Whatever the outcome, all Sudanese people, whether in the North or the South, must continue to co-exist peacefully after 9 January, he said, stressing also that meaningful progress on post-referendum arrangements now could be translated into a more positive voting climate.  More progress was also needed on Abyei, he added.

Concerned about recent clashes in Darfur and the deterioration in the security situation there, he urged all rebel movements to return to the peace negotiations without preconditions.  He warned that since the referendum was likely to lead to the break-up of a large country — potentially a traumatic experience the benefits of which would only become evident in the long term — the international community must brace itself for major turbulence ahead.  The CPA must be implemented fully, but the Council must be prepared to ensure the effective management of the potential security and military repercussions after the referenda.

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For information media • not an official record
For information media. Not an official record.