The United Nations today welcomed the reported decision by President Omar Al-Bashir to immediately lift censorship on Sudanese newspapers.
“This decision will advance the implementation of the Comprehensive Peace Agreement (CPA) and is an important step towards creating an appropriate environment for the multi-party elections scheduled for April 2010,” the UN Mission in Sudan (UNMIS) said in a statement.
UNMIS voiced hope that the implementation of the decision announced by Mr. Al-Bashir on Sunday, along with other measures under consideration, “will enable all Sudanese to freely exercise their rights of franchise and expression.”
It also reiterated its commitment to stand by and support the efforts of the parties to implement the 2005 CPA, which ended Sudan’s north-south civil war.
The pact requires a comprehensive review of national laws to bring them into line with the Interim Constitution and the country’s international human rights obligations.
It also includes a provision for a referendum on independence for the south slated for 2011, following national elections next year.
In a recent report on progress towards the elections, Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon noted that Sudan’s institutions have yet to take a number of basic steps to prepare for the long-awaited polls.
The Government of National Unity, the National Assembly and the Government of Southern Sudan must “guarantee basic political freedoms, including the freedom of assembly, speech and the press,” he wrote.