Home | News    Saturday 22 August 2009

Southern Sudanese will likely choose unity in a free referendum: NCP

August 21, 2009 (KHARTOUM) — The citizens of South Sudan will vote for unity rather than the secession in the upcoming 2011 referendum if they are afforded “total freedom” a top official at the dominant National Congress Party (NCP) said.

The Sudanese presidential assistant Nafi Ali Nafi told the NCP convention in Khartoum that the issue of referendum and the April 2010 elections represent the most pressing items in the political arena.

Sudan People Liberation Movement (SPLM) which rules South Sudan rejects the census results upon which the geographical constituencies will be based.

The ex-Southern rebel group claim that the census results released this year were rigged, understating the population of South Sudan and overstating that of Darfur.

The movement suggested using population percentages based on the 1956 census results something which the NCP rejects.

Nafi said that the NCP wants to conduct a constructive dialogue with other political parties on the issue of freedoms and liberties prior to the elections but warned against any activity targeting the security of the country.

He lashed out at newspapers that talk about enhancing political freedoms in the North while turning a blind eye to “lack of political freedom in the South”.

On the issue of referendum, Nafi reiterated the NCP’s position that all Southerners should be allowed to vote irrespective of where they reside. The SPLM only wants the voters in the South to take part in the referendum.

Among the key sticking points is the percentage of votes required in the referendum to declare it favoring independence, determining the post-referendum process and the share of Sudan’s debts the South would carry with it if it secedes.

The NCP is pushing for a 75% ‘Yes’ vote for South Sudan to be allowed to secede, something the SPLM rejects.

In a testimony before US lawmakers, the special envoy to Sudan Scott Gration expressed worry that skipping the already delayed 2010 national elections may make it very difficult to hold credible referendum in Abyei and South Sudan in 2011.

This week Gration stressed that the referendum needs to be held timely but it is unclear if the time remaining will be sufficient to resolve the outstanding differences between the NCP & SPLM.