BECAUSE OF THE IMPORTANCE OF Sudan's 9 JANUARY referendum - to the country, Africa and the world -the AU Sudan Consultative Forum (SCF) meeting on 6 November attracted a huge audience.
It was attended by the following countries and organisations: Chad, DRCongo, Egypt, Eritrea, Ethiopia, Kenya, Libya, Uganda, Malawi, Gabon, Nigeria, Norway, Qatar, Algeria, Canada, Denmark, Germany, Italy, Japan, South Africa, Sweden; the five permanent members of the UN Security Council - China, France, Russia, Britain, and the USA - as well as the League of Arab States, the Organisation of the Islamic Conference, the European Union, the Assessment and Evaluation Commission (AEC), and the Intergovernmental Authority on Development (IGAD).
After listening to presentations by the Sudanese parties, representing the signatories to the Comprehensive Peace Agreement (CPA), as well as the Government of National Unity (GoNU) and the Government of Southern Sudan (GoSS), the meeting went into an interactive session on all aspects of the situation in Sudan and the efforts being made to implement the outstanding provisions of the CPA and the search for peace in Darfur.
The meeting then decided the following: That the situation in Sudan required the parties to demonstrate exceptional leadership and commitment to rise to the challenges of this historic moment and the trust placed in them by the people of Sudan. It said the burden of responsibility placed on the President of Sudan and the First Vice President demanded that they should rise to the challenge.
The meeting encouraged the Sudanese parties to continue to engage with each other in order to reach agreement on the steps that need to be taken in the coming weeks to ensure the successful conclusion of the implementation of the CPA.
The meeting welcomed the commitment of the CPA parties at the High-Level Meeting on Sudan, chaired by the UN secretary general, Ban Ki-moon, in New York on 24 September, to overcome the remaining political and technical challenges, to ensure that the referendum is held on 9 January and to promote good relations between Northern and Southern Sudan no matter the outcome of the referendum.
The meeting urged the parties to increase efforts towards resolving the outstanding issues, including security, Abyei and border demarcation. It drew particular attention to the issue of citizenship rights and the importance of ensuring that the people of Sudan did not suffer any abrogation of human rights during or after the referendum.
The meeting welcomed the progress made by the Southern Sudan Referendum Commission in preparing for the referendum. But it noted that much still remained to be done to facilitate a timely, free, fair and credible process.
The meeting, thus, called on the government of Sudan and the GoSS to fulfil their obligations and transfer funds to accelerate progress. It also called on donors to honour the pledges they had made to help finance the process. …