Observers from the Carter Centre who have been monitoring preparations for a historic vote on independence for south Sudan warned that a war of words between northern and southern leaders is creating a climate of fear.
The non-governmental organisation founded by former United States president Jimmy Carter urged the National Congress Party, which leads the Khartoum government, and the former rebel Sudan People’s Liberation Movement that runs the south to tone down their rhetoric in the run-up to the January 9 vote.
“In the last few days, the NCP and SPLM have traded accusations of intimidation and manipulation of the registration process in northern Sudan,” the Carter Centre said in a statement dated Wednesday, November 24.
“These accusations and accompanying abusive language are creating a climate of fear and distrust,” it said.
“While allegations of manipulation deserve to be thoroughly investigated, some of the members of the NCP and SPLM appear more interested in scoring political points than in the integrity of the registration process.
“Both parties should refrain from using inflammatory political rhetoric that could cause an increase in tension,” it said.
‘Successful voter referendum’
The Carter Centre noted that the latest exchanges between the two sides which fought a two decade-long civil war followed a row in September over a warning by Information Minister Kamal Obeid that southerners living in the north risked losing their citizenship if the south opts to break away.
It said that was an “issue which remains a cause of anxiety among southerners.”
The Carter Centre said that the launch of voter registration for the referendum had been “successful” but added that “a few key components of the process require urgent adjustment” to allow all those who want to enrol to do so before the process ends on December 1.
“Carter Centre observers have noted that some registration materials have either not arrived to all registration centres or are currently running low due to the high volume of participation, particularly in urban areas of southern Sudan,” it said.
It called on referendum organisers to “make additional materials available in a timely manner … so the deficiency of registration books and indelible ink does not prevent eligible Sudanese from participating in the process.”
The Carter Centre has deployed 46 observers across Sudan’s 22 states to monitor the registration process for the January referendum, which is the centrepiece of the 2005 peace deal that ended the civil war between north and south. — Sapa-AFP