North and Southern Sudan Agree on Independence Referendum

Published on Tuesday 15th December 2009

Officials from the ruling parties in Khartoum and Southern Sudan have reached an agreement on new legislation governing national elections next April as well as a later referendum on independence for the south, reports the Sudan Tribune.

The country's national cabinet approved three bills at an extraordinary meeting on Sunday night, the news service reported. It quoted Sudan's official news agency as saying they would be tabled in the National Assembly on Monday.

Protests over the government's failure to agree on the legislation led to arrests and low-scale clashes last week.

The Sudan Tribune reported that the agreement was reached between senior officials of the ruling National Congress Party (NCP) and the Sudan People's Liberation Movement (SPLM), which controls government in the south.

The Tribune quoted Nafie Ali Nafie, deputy head of of the NCP in Khartoum, as saying the parties had reached agreeement on "all points which had been a source of disagreement on the referendum law in south Sudan.”

The south is due to vote in January 2011 whether it wants to remain part of Sudan. The Tribune said Sunday's agreement laid down that 60 percent of registered voters would need to go to the polls, and 51 percent would need to approve independence before it could be granted. The NCP had reportedly wanted a turnout of two-thirds of voters and a vote for independence of between 75 and 90 percent.

SPLM secretary-general Pagan Amum was quoted as saying that SPLM members of parliament, who have been boycotting its sessions, would return within 24 hours.



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