/ 30 March 2010

Sudan leader warns south on referendum

Sudan President Omar al-Bashir has warned against a boycott of national elections next month by former southern rebels.

A boycott of national elections next month by former southern rebels would result in the north rejecting the south holding a secession referendum in January, President Omar al-Bashir warned on Monday.

“If the SPLM [Sudan People’s Liberation Movement] boycott the elections, we will reject the referendum,” al-Bashir said in comments carried on local television.

Rumours have been making the rounds of the capital Khartoum that the SPLM would seek to have the legislative, regional and presidential elections scheduled for next month delayed, or would boycott them.

But a party leader said on Monday that “The SPLM are ready for elections.”

Anne Itto, the party’s deputy secretary general in south Sudan, said: “Any further delay of the election would affect our preparations for the referendum.”

The elections in April will be Sudan’s first multiparty elections in almost a quarter of a century.

Under the 2005 peace deal that ended a 22-year civil war, mostly Christian and animist southern Sudan obtained the right to hold a referendum on breaking away from the Muslim-majority north in January 2011. — AFP