The Security Council delegation visiting Sudan today stressed that the two referenda scheduled for January must be held on time, in a peaceful environment and according to the provisions of the peace agreement that ended the war between the north and the south.
“We are here to reinforce that message and the determination of the Council to support you and all parties to the CPA [Comprehensive Peace Agreement] in that process,” said Ambassador Susan Rice of the United States, who is heading the delegation.
On 9 January the inhabitants of southern Sudan will vote on whether to secede from the rest of the country, while the residents of the central area of Abyei will vote on whether to be part of the north or the south.
The referenda will be the final phase in the implementation of the CPA, which was signed in 2005 to end two decades of warfare between the northern-based Government and the Sudan People’s Liberation Movement/Army (SPLM/A) in the south.
The Council’s visit was a follow-up to last month’s high-level meeting on Sudan held under UN auspices in New York that produced a communiqué calling on the international community to respect the outcome of the referenda if they meet those stipulated criteria.
Ms. Rice noted that the “core responsibility” for successful implementation of the CPA remains in the hands of the regional Government of Southern Sudan (GoSS), the national Government in Khartoum, and the Sudanese people.
The delegation concluded its two-day stop in Juba, the capital of southern Sudan, with a visit to the Dr. John Garang Unified Memorial Police Training Academy in the nearby town of Rejaf.
The visit to the police-training academy was significant because the Southern Sudan Police Service (SSPS) will play a central role in crowd control and the securing of polling centres and ballot boxes during the referenda.
“The UN has been one of the key components in the support that we are getting for the development of the police and in training these recruits […] from the 10 states,” said GoSS Minister for Internal Affairs Gier Chuang Aluong.
Since July, UN Police advisers have trained over 11,500 SSPS officers in referendum security procedures and regulations throughout southern Sudan, according to Rajesh Dewan, the Police Commissioner in the UN Mission in Sudan (UNMIS).
An initial group of 5,400 police cadets who began to receive instruction at the Rejaf training facility in January is expected to graduate at the end of this month, and a second group of 4,000 cadets will subsequently start their training.
Yesterday, the Council delegation held a two-hour closed-door meeting with senior Southern Sudanese officials led by GoSS President Salva Kiir.
The delegation travelled to Darfur today, from where they will proceed to Khartoum before completing their mission on Saturday.