Neither Election nor Referenda Are Ends in Themselves, Secretary-General Cautions during African Union Commission Meeting on Sudan

1 February 2010

Neither Election nor Referenda Are Ends in Themselves, Secretary-General Cautions during African Union Commission Meeting on Sudan

1 February 2010
Department of Public Information • News and Media Division • New York

Neither Election nor Referenda Are Ends in Themselves, Secretary-General

Cautions during African Union Commission Meeting on Sudan


Following are UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon’s remarks to a meeting on Sudan hosted by the Chairperson of the African Union Commission, in Addis Ababa on 31 January:

Thank you for bringing us together to discuss issues of peace and security in Sudan, key issues that affect all of Africa.  This meeting also shows the value of the partnership between the United Nations and the African Union in providing support to Sudan on this crucial issue.

As Chairperson [Jean] Ping has said, 2010 is a critical year for Sudan.  The elections will take place in less than three months.  The North-South referendum to determine the future of Sudan will occur in just under a year.  The National Congress Party (NCP) and the Sudan Peoples Liberation Movement (SPLM) have taken steps to prepare for these major events, but there is still much more to be done.

When the Comprehensive Peace Agreement (CPA) was signed, the parties pledged to undertake all efforts to make unity attractive.  They also affirmed that the people of Southern Sudan shall freely decide their future in a united Sudan or an independent South Sudan.

Neither the election nor the referenda are ends in themselves.  They are important milestones that will allow the people of Sudan to determine their leaders and future.  Managing the results will require real cooperation between the NCP and the SPLM, as well as other stakeholders in the South and the North.

The real peace and security question is how the parties to the CPA decide to live together -- either as one or as neighbours.  In either case, the issues they will face are the same, and peace and security depend on the quality of these decisions.  These issues, to be defined by the parties, could include security, border management and resource sharing.

Our common strategic objective for 2010 should be a peaceful resolution to the two conflicts in Sudan.  To achieve this, the United Nations will pursue a four-track strategy.  First, we will work with Sudanese parties, the AU and other key actors to coordinate activities and forge a consensus on the way forward.

Second, we will continue to strengthen the UN presence on the ground.  As you know, our Joint Special Representative, Ibrahim Gambari, has started his intensive work.  And I intend to appoint Haile Menkerios as Head of the United Nations Mission in the Sudan (UNMIS) as of the end of February with a view to facilitate the political process.

Third, we will promote discussions between the parties on key post-referendum issues.  Fourth, we will work with our partners to help build the capacity, particularly in South Sudan where the need exists most.

The United Nations will also provide the best possible technical assistance for the upcoming elections and referenda.  That means working with all Sudanese to create an environment for free and fair elections.

While the elections will be a major step towards democratic transformation, they should not be seen as a replacement for directly addressing the grievances of the people of Darfur.  In this regard, the Darfur peace process has reached a critical point.  Both the Government and the rebel movements must demonstrate serious commitment by embracing the consensus on key issues which Joint Chief Mediator [Djibril] Bassolé is helping the people of Darfur build.

While I speak, consultations are taking place in Doha and each side will need to make concessions for the sake of peace in Darfur.  We count on your efforts to mobilize coherent and unified international and regional support for this crucial political process.  As we take all of these challenges, we remember that peace cannot be sustained without justice.

In the end, the future of Sudan rests with the Sudanese people.  But the United Nations, the African Union and the international community must, together, provide them with critical assistance on their difficult journey towards lasting peace and prosperity.

Everyone has a role to play.  To the CPA parties, I urge an acceleration of efforts to make unity attractive.  I call on them to ensure an environment in which candidates can campaign freely and the people of Sudan can vote without any interference.  The referenda in Southern Sudan and Abyei need to be held without hindrance and the results duly respected.  I urge the parties to reach agreement on key post-referendum arrangements.  

To Chad and Sudan, I welcome the agreement they have reached and urge them to follow through -- to implement it with full commitment and build on it to promote further cooperation.  This will positively affect the Darfur political process.

To the African Union, I commend the efforts that have been made and urge that you stay the course.  The United Nations will continue to work in full partnership with you.

Time is short, but it is my hope that when we meet again here next year, it will be to discuss the progress made on each and every one of these vital issues.

* *** *

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