Preparation for January referenda poses big challenge for UN mission in Sudan

13:48, August 07, 2010      

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Major General Moses Bisong Obi, the force commander of the UN Mission in the Sudan (UNMIS), said here on Friday that preparation for the January referenda poses a big challenge for UNMIS, and stressed the need for increased aviation resources and freedom of movement in order to secure the African country for the upcoming elections.

The statement came as Obi was briefing the UN Security Council on the situation in Sudan during an open debate on UN peacekeeping operations.

"UNMIS is in a very crucial period in its mandate implementation as Sudan approaches the referenda that will determine its future," he said.

As dictated by the Comprehensive Peace Agreement (CPA) of 2005, on Jan. 9, 2011, the people of the embattled southern region of Sudan will be given the opportunity to vote on whether or not to secede from the rest of the country. There will also be a vote as to whether the disputed Abyei region should officially be deemed part of north or south of the country.

The 10,000-strong UNMIS was launched in 2005 to monitor implementation of the CPA.

Obi said that although the two referenda are the national government's responsibility, both north and south have requested assistance from UNMIS with this important historical event.

"UNMIS planning and preparation is in full flow for providing support to the referenda," he said. "Technical reconnaissance of the 79 County Referendum Bases are completed and logistic and engineering planning is at full tilt in order to set up the bases ready for occupation."

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