U.S. envoy denies proposal to delay south Sudan referendum

10:24, October 31, 2010      

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U.S Special Envoy to Sudan Scott Gration on Saturday denied that there was an American proposal to delay south Sudan referendum, slated for January 9, 2011.

"We have no proposal to delay the referendum. In fact we would like to see the referendum that happens on time that is peaceful and allows the people of southern Sudan to express their will," Gration told reporters in Khartoum.

"That is what we are pushing for, so we are looking for 9 January having people fill out the voting cards to be able to express their will. That is what we are pushing for and there is absolutely no talk about a delay," he added.

Earlier reports in the day said that the leadership of the Sudan People's Liberation Movement (SPLM) were studying a U.S. proposal to delay south Sudan referendum due to shortness of the remaining time.

To this end, a number of Khartoum's daily newspapers on Saturday reported that "the Sudan government partners, the National Congress Party (NCP) and the SPLM" would make use of the five-month delay to overcome their outstanding issues including the nationality, citizenship, and border demarcation, and to educate the southern Sudanese people with the self-determination referendum options "unity or separation."

A referendum on self-determination for southern Sudan is set for January 9, 2011, to decide whether the region should remain united with north Sudan or secede. The referendum is stipulated by the Comprehensive Peace Agreement (CPA), inked between north and south Sudan in 2005, which ended around two-decade war between the two sides.

The NCP and the SPLM have failed to resolve many issues relating to the referendum, top of them the border demarcation and the identity of the voters who have the right to vote in the referendum of the country's disputed oil-rich area of Abyei which is be conducted coincident with south Sudan referendum.



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