Khartoum, (Sudanow)-The united states, Britain and Norway have commended the peaceful conduct of the referendum in its first day in the Sudan, saying the process was a historic step in the implementation of the comprehensive peace agreement (CPA)
The foreign ministers of the three governments, known as the Troika group, U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, Norwegian Foreign Minister Jonas Støre, and British Foreign Secretary William Hague issued a statement commending the start of polling for the Southern Sudan referendum.
“We welcome the start of polling today for the Southern Sudan Referendum. This represents a historic step towards completion of Sudan’s Comprehensive Peace Agreement. “The statement said.
It pointed out that the three countries recognize the significant progress which has been made in recent weeks towards preparing for the referendum, including the successful completion of voter registration and other technical arrangements.
“We welcome the preliminary reports of the UN Secretary General’s Panel on the Referenda in Sudan, Carter Center, European Union, and other international and domestic observation missions, which stated that arrangements are now in place that provide a firm foundation for a credible referendum to take place.” The statement said.
It said the three countries call upon all to exercise efforts to ensure peaceful and credible completion of the referendum process in a manner which reflects the will of the people of South Sudan.
It pointed out to the Southern Sudan Referendum Commission and Southern Sudan Referendum Bureau which said they have made enormous efforts under significant pressure and deserves to be commended for their work.
“We welcome the leadership shown by both Sudanese parties. President Bashir has made clear that his Government will respect the outcome of the Referendum. We welcome this commitment.” The statement stressed.
It said the three parties were “encouraged” by the strong public commitments of both Presidents Bashir and Kiir to continue negotiations on post-referendum issues and to foster cooperation between the North and South regardless of the referendum result.
“We welcome these commitments as well as their pledge that the safety and security of all peoples in Sudan will be protected throughout this process. It is vital that these commitments are upheld.” It said.
On the issue of Abyei, the small triangle in south western Sudan, disputed by the north and the south, the Troika group said they were deeply concerned by the situation there.
“The situation in Abyei remains of deep concern. We commend the people of Abyei for their patience in recent months. “It stressed
The two sides have first to decide whether the triangle is part of the north or the south. The triangle then has to vote whether they are for unity of separation. However as the question of who should vote and who is citizen of Abyei and who was not, and the borderlines of the area, have all not been resolved prior to the kick off of the referendum, today, Sunday. This would mean the area could not play a role in the decision whether the south should separate from the north or not.
A move to unilaterally announce the area part of the south was rebuffed by both president Bashir and his deputy, first vice president Salva Kiir Marydit.
“The outstanding issues must be resolved in a calm and measured manner and we emphasize again to both parties their responsibilities to urgently resolve the impasse. Clear communication is also vital to reassure the communities on the ground that their concerns will be addressed and to underscore that the parties will reconvene negotiations at the earliest possible date.” It said.
The statement has praised the work of the many domestic and international observation and monitoring groups saying that was a crucial part of the referendum.
“We welcome their continuing engagement. We also welcome the strong leadership by the United Nations Mission in Sudan. We will work closely with all international partners to maintain strong international support for the referendum process, and successful completion of the CPA.” the statement said.
The three countries come together to form the troika to help Sudanese implement the comprehensive peace agreement (CPA) signed in 2005 and which put an end to the 22 years of war in southern Sudan.
The first day of voting ended at 5 pm Sudan local time with no incident of insecurity. The polling will continue up the 15th of January when the centers will be closed and votes will be counted, revealing whether southerners have chosen unity or separation.