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Sudan ‘too slow’ on referendum

Written by: on 23rd September 2010

Norwegian Foreign Minister Jonas Gahr Stoere worried about progress of Sudan's referendum plans

Sudan’s progress on organizing a key referendum in January next year is “too slow,” Norway’s diplomatic chief has warned. Jonas Gahr Stoere, the Norwegian Foreign Minister, said the major thing about Sudan is that time is short, and that the ninth of January is a target date which the public needs to understand the full meaning of. He added that the north and the south have to do their active work of preparing for the post-referendum issues.” Mr. Stoere warned that if the vote goes wrong, it will of course have implications far beyond Sudan stressing the need to work on “key issues” between now and January. On Friday, a high-level meeting on Sudan is due to take place at the United Nations.

In the meantime, a spokesman of the Sudan Peoples liberation Movement (SPLM) has accused the National Congress Party (NCP) for trying to stiffen and harden the process of the referendum so that it leads to the unity of Sudan. Talking to SCR News, Yien Matthew said the NCP affirmed to the latter before the passing of the referendum act. He added that the SPLM is not worried about the NCP behaviors since southerners will decide on their fate.

Mr. Yien further revealed that the insecurity backed by the NCP proves that the latter is working towards hardening the process of the referendum. He cited the LRA in Western Equatorial and troops deployed in Abyei to block the referendum of the people of Abyei.

The Southern Sudan Referendum Commission (SSRC)’s work was previously stalled as both southern and northern leaders demanded their candidate take the post, but last month the South relented to allow a Northern candidate. But work has still not been finished on completing the frontiers between the two sides and other major technical preparations. Even the wording of the referendum has not yet been revealed.

To prepare the country for the referendum, 101 days of prayer for a peaceful referendum was launched early this week at YEI freedom square under the theme “Change your heart change the world”. Speaking to Radio Easter, the organizer of the occasion Fr. Emmanuel Lodongo Sebit said the prayers were not only for Catholics alone but for all the denominations in Sudan to pray for a peaceful referendum in the nation. He appealed to all the people to participate in the event which he described as an important event for peace to prevail in the country especially in southern Sudan.

The day coincided with the international day of peace and will end on the 1st of January 2011 which is the world day of peace. The pledge was made during an event to give thanks to the citizens who voted for them as members of parliament. Agnes Kwaje Lukudu the minister of gender, social and religious affairs in the government of southern Sudan described leaders as servants of the people since they are chosen to serve. The event was graced by the ministers from Central Equatorial State, Religious leaders and representatives from the Payams of YEI County.

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