Wednesday, June 16, 2010

Sudan: FM - "If we don't agree on the results of the referendum, this could trigger a new war between north and south Sudan"

FOCUS Information Agency - Sudan's new foreign minister warned on Tuesday that any disagreement over the results of a referendum on southern independence could lead to another civil war, AFP reported.

"If we don't agree on the results of the referendum, this could trigger a new war between north and south Sudan," said Ali Karti, who was appointed foreign minister in a decree on Monday by President Omar al-Beshir.

"It will be a difficult and tough war, different from the previous one because both sides are better equipped," militarily, Karti said.

The Khartoum government signed a peace agreement with the ex-rebel Sudan People's Liberation Movement (SPLM) in 2005 that ended a devastating civil war that killed two million people and lasted more than two decades.

The Comprehensive Peace Agreement also gave south Sudan a measure of autonomy until the future of the country is determined in a referendum due to take place in January 2011.

The ruling National Congress Party and SPLM have agreed that if a simple majority vote for independence in the referendum, the south will secede so long as at least two-thirds of the registered electorate takes part in the poll.

Beshir, who was re-elected in April, warned earlier this month of an "explosive" situation between north and south Sudan if the south chooses to break away in the referendum.
But he also said: "We have no other choice but to work with the SPLM for the sake of the country's unity."

Beshir, who is wanted by the International Criminal Court for alleged war crimes in the vast Darfur region of western Sudan, also said in May when he was being sworn in that he was committed to hold the referendum on time.

"It is a commitment we will not renege on. We made a vow and we will adhere to it ... We will accept, in good faith, the choice of the south, whatever the choice may be," the president said, while stressing he would work for unity.

Sudan's newly-appointed foreign minister also said that the borders between north and south Sudan should be demarcated before the referendum is held.

"We cannot hold a referendum before the border is demarcated. The demarcation will help establish where people live and where (natural) resources are located," Karti said.
Sudan produces 500,000 barrels of oil per day and has reserves estimated at six billion barrels.
Most of it lies on the border between north and south and how to share the revenues has been a major source of tension in the run-up to the independence referendum.