Sudan warns south against independence declaration

Sudan’s ruling National Congress Party (NCP) said on Thursday its southern partners in government would commit “suicide” if they declared an independent state without a referendum.

The southern Sudan People’s Liberation Movement (SPLM) threatened to opt for “alternative options” if a January referendum is delayed. A commission tasked with organising the referendum has not yet started work because of disagreements.

The NCP’s deputy leader, Nafie Ali Nafie, told reporters that the SPLM wanted to divide Sudan, adding “if the movement decided on declaring south Sudan’s independence by a parliamentary vote without a referendum it would be committing political suicide”.

He insisted the NCP wanted to hold the referendum on schedule and resolve problems that could delay it.

The referendum was a key part of a 2005 peace agreement that ended more than 20 years of fighting between the north and the south.

The commission that is responsible for organising the referendum, which analysts say is likely to result in a win for the secessionists, has yet to appoint a secretary general to conduct its work.

On Wednesday, US envoy to Sudan Scott Gration arrived for talks, in an effort to address concerns over the schedule of the vote. — Sapa-AFP

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