January 1, 2011 (KHARTOUM) – Sudan President Omar Hassan Al-Bashir has reiterated his commitment to recognize the results of south Sudan’s vote on independence, pledging to erect strong ties with the semi-autonomous region if it opted for full independence as expected.
- Sudan President Omar Hassan Al-Bashir during his address to the nation on the occasion of Sudan’s 55th anniversary of independence at the Presidential Palace in Khartoum, December 31, 2010 (Reuters)
In less than a week on January 9, citizens of south Sudan are due to go the polls to cast their votes either in favor of remaining united with the north or seceding to create an independent state.
The vote was stipulated in a 2005’s peace deal that ended nearly half a century of intermittent civil war between the south decades between the south, where most ascribe to Christianity or traditional beliefs, and the predominantly Muslim north.
Feeling aggrieved by the years of civil war and perceived neglect by successive governments in the north, southerners are largely expected to vote for full independence.
In the speech he delivered on the occasion of Sudan’s independence on December 31, Al-Bashir once again said he would adhere to the referendum date and honor its results.
“Let the referendum process proceed with God’s good graces as well as our commitment which we now reiterate to the scheduled date and to accept the outcome resulting from the desire and choice of the citizens”.
Al-Bashir pledged that he would “not renege or hesitate on” the commitment to accept the final result.
President Al-Bashir, who is expected to visit south Sudan’s capital Juba on 4 January to assess preparations for the plebiscite, further reaffirmed his government’s commitment to safeguard the rights of southern citizens in the north if the south seceded.
“We are committed to the promise we made to protect south Sudanese citizens in the north, we call on the Government of South Sudan to do likewise by taking the measures to safeguard the situation,” he said.
Al-Bashir maintained that unity is the best option for southerners. But he promised if unity cannot be attained he would seek to foster cooperative and mutually beneficial relations with the south.
“We will call and work for creating relations based on cooperation and promotion of common interests, and to present a role model in maintaining joint security and exchanging interests as well as looking after social relations and ties of blood, kinship and history,” Al-Bashir declared.