December 22, 2010 (WASHINGTON) – The U.S. President Barack Obama held a phone conversation with South Sudan president and chairman of Sudan people Liberation Movement (SPLM) Salva Kiir on Wednesday to discuss the status of the outstanding items in the Comprehensive Peace Agreement (CPA), the White House said.
- U.S. President Barack Obama (Whitehouse)
The statement by White House spokesperson said that Obama underscored "the United States’ commitment to a peaceful and on-time referendum".
"The President underscored the importance of Vice President Kiir’s leadership during this volatile time period in Sudan’s history and urged Kiir to engage seriously with the National Congress Party in the coming days to resolve the outstanding issues related to Comprehensive Peace Agreement (CPA) implementation and take actions to prevent outbreaks of violence".
The largely Christian and animist south is to vote on January 9 on whether to remain united with the Muslim north or break away to form an independent country.
The referendum is the key plank of the 2005 peace deal that put an end to two decades of civil war between north and south.
Many countries in the region and other international powers such as the U.S. are concerned that any disruption to the referendum process might reignite the civil war in Africa’s largest country.
Last week it was revealed that Obama has written to Gaddafi, Mubarak and other leaders in the region stressing Washington’s desire to see a peaceful and successful voting process.
The NCP & SPLM have been discussing without success since July the key sticking points of future citizenship arrangements, the sharing out of natural resources — particularly oil — security and compliance with international accords, notably on water allocation from the Nile.
They have also yet to find common ground on the disputed oil district of Abyei which had supposed to be holding a simultaneous vote on its own future that has been delayed by disagreements over who should be eligible to vote and demarcating the region’s borders.
U.S. brokered talks held in Ethiopia last October dedicated to the Abyei issue have failed to break the stalemate.
Today, the head of the United Nations panel tasked with monitoring the referendum expressed concern over the lingering deadlock over Abyei.
"On Abyei, our grave concerns have not abated. As the negotiations continue, it is vital that everyone involved shows patience and does their utmost to reach a peaceful and permanent settlement acceptable to all" said Benjamin Mkapa, the chair of the Panel and the former President of Tanzania.