SPLM moves quickly to dismiss referendum postponement reports

SPLM moves quickly to dismiss referendum postponement reports
Photo (Sudan Tribune)

August 8, 2010 (JUBA) — The Secretary General of the Sudan People’s Liberation Movement (SPLM) and minister of Peace and CPA Implementation in the government of South Sudan (GoSS), Pagan Amum, has refuted media reports attributed to him saying that the referendum for the South would be postponed for another six months until July 2011.

Amum allegedly made the remarks during his recent visit to Cairo at the invitation of the Egyptian government which hosted talks between the ruling National Congress Party (NCP) in control of North Sudan and the SPLM.

At a press statement in Juba International Airport on his way to Khartoum on Sunday, Amum said the report published by the newspapers was not true stressing that he is opposed to rescheduling the referendum describing the report as unfounded.

The SPLM official Amum said the two parties in Cairo agreed to hold the referendum in time by January 2011.

“Any attempt to delay the referendum would be considered as reneging on the CPA. If the referendum is not possible or obstructed, this will invoke other articles in the agreement [CPA], that’s why we said in the agreement that there are other mechanisms, one of them for example could be that the parliament of southern Sudan take over the process of organizing the referendum fully without the north if obstruction is coming from the north” said Amum at a press conference in Khartoum.

A senior GoSS official reached by Sudan Tribune affirmed Amum’s position saying that he has knowledge of any agreement on postponing the referendum.

The referendum is part of the internationally sponsored 2005 peace agreement that ended more than 20 years of civil war between the north and the south, which left 2 million people dead and more than twice that number displaced.

Southerners have increasingly shown eagerness for the key vote to materialize and opt for independence as most observers anticipate to be the outcome. The NCP has been campaigning extensively over the last few months to convince Southerners to vote for unity by inaugurating developmental projects and also warn from the dangers of breaking up Sudan.

On Saturday, Tarek Osman Al-Tahir, a member of the referendum commission at the headquarters in Khartoum told reporters that some arrangements required in the conduct of referendum will have to be skipped if the vote was to be held as planned in January.

He said that the referendum law states that completion of voters’ registration and publication should be done in three months lead time.

"This is impossible with the time left at the moment. We have only two choices left: skip some of the procedures, which would be unacceptable because it could affect the endorsement of the referendum result or resort to the other choice of a limited delay to the referendum timetable to complete these procedures," said Al-Tahir.

Infuriated by the remarks, Deng Achuil Wol, a senior official from the regional government of South Sudan currently visiting Khartoum, told Sudan Tribune that all these suggestions are political tactics meant to delay conduct of the referendum in favour of unity.

"There is no time left also for this cheap political propaganda. This is not the commission talking. This is NCP talking because they have seen southern Sudanese preparing overwhelmingly to vote against unity. They can conspire here and there but they will not succeed. Nobody in south Sudan is ready to buy this cheap political campaign. Referendum must be conducted on the 9th of January 2011 as stipulated in the agreement whether the SPLM or NCP likes it or not. This is not about them anymore but future of our region and generations to come," said Mr. Wol.

Today, the deputy Chairperson of Southern Sudan referendum commission, Chan Rec Madut also downplayed chances for moving up the referendum date.

In an interview with Sudan Tribune from Juba on Sunday, Madut said that there has been no official request from either the two parties in this regard noting that preparations are continuing and that they are in the process of wrapping up a tour of Southern states.

"We are concluding visits to all states of southern Sudan and we are in daily contact with the head office on administrative issues" he added.

Madut said that all ten states of southern Sudan have been asked to nominate people they would like to be appointed as head of high executive committees required to be in the state as focal points.

"The states need to identify people they would like to be appointed as head of the executive committees at earliest date possible because we are competing with the time," he said.


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