/ 7 January 2011

SA observer team to monitor Sudan referendum

South Africa has sent an observer team of 35 Members of Parliament, government officials and civil society members to monitor a secession referendum in southern Sudan on Sunday, the Department of International Relations and Cooperation said on Friday.

“On Sunday January 9 2011, the people of South Sudan will vote in a referendum to decide whether they will remain part of a United Sudan or form a new independent state,” the department said.

“South Africa has deployed an Observer Team comprising of 35 people inclusive of Members of Parliament, government officials as well as civil society to form part of the African Union observer mission to assist in ensuring a conducive environment for a credible, free and fair referendum.”

The department said South Africa’s support for the referendum was premised on the role it plays as chair of the African Union (AU) Committee on Post Conflict Reconstruction and Development in Sudan.

“Given the history of the Sudan, we are convinced that the governments and the people of that country want to close the chapter of war and conflict and desire peace and development,” Minister Maite Nkoana-Mashabane said in a statement.

“South Africa will continue to lend its support to these efforts”.

The department said South Africa and Sudan enjoy “cordial” relations. Various government departments are involved in education, public service, policing, justice and constitutional development projects.

In addition to the assistance provided in the Post-Conflict Reconstruction and Development initiatives in Sudan, South Africa was also part of the AU Observer Mission during the general elections held in April 2010. — Sapa