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Sudan President Omer Hassan Al-Bashir Warns Against 'Unilateral Solutions' to North-South Disputes

Published on Sunday 5th December 2010

Sudan President Omer Hassan Al-Bashir has warned that attempts to impose "unilateral solutions" to the pending issues in the implementation of the Comprehensive Peace Agreement (CPA) will be catastrophic for both north and south Sudan.

Signed in 2005, the CPA ended decades of civil war between north and south Sudan and promised the latter a chance to gain full independence if it chooses to in a referendum vote due in January 2001. An overwhelming majority of southerners will say yes for secession, according to most observers.

The CPA's signatories, the National Congress Party (NCP) of President Al-Bashir in north Sudan and the Sudan People's Liberation Movement in the south, bickered throughout much of the CPA implementation. Luckily though, the two sides managed to avoid a return to war.

Abyei referendum, north-south border Sudan's debit remain the main outstanding issues between the two peace partners. However, Sudanese president is supposed here to speak about the future of the disputed region of Abyei.

North Sudan wants the nomadic Arab tribe of Al-Missiryah, whose cattle-herders traverse borders into Abyei few months a year to graze their cattle, to vote in the referendum whereas the south insists that the only people eligible to vote are the area's southern indigenous tribe of Dinka Ngok.

Al-Bashir, who was addressing the opening session of the NCP's consultative council in the capital Khartoum on Thursday, made it clear in his Thursday's address that north Sudan will not accept a referendum in Abyei without the participation of Al-Missiryah.

"We will not accept conduction of a referendum in Abyei area that excludes the Messeria from voting and we reject their treatment as second class citizens in their lands," he declared.

Bashir in the past repeated that the rule of Abyei arbitration tribunal should not affect the Misseriya right to vote in the referendum even where the land was awarded to Dinka Ngok.

Last week, Dinka Ngok tribe said that they would [hold their own referendum if no agreement is reached to conduct the referendum in the area.

"Any attempts to impose a unilateral solution to the deadlock over Abyei will lead to disastrous results" Al-Bashir said in response.

In Abyei referendum, which is due to take place at the same 9th of January 2011, the population of the oil-producing area has to decide whether they want to remain in the north or join the south.

The two peace partners are set to meet during the week end to decide on some options filed by the head of the African Union panel on Sudan, Thabo Mbeki on the future of the region. These proposals push observers to predict that the referendum will not take place in the disputed area

Further Bashir in his speech before the consultative body of the ruling NCP averred that his party would not attempt to destabilize the south or start war.

"We will not be the ones who initiate the war and we will not work to disturb the stability in the south," Al-Bashir declared.

The leader of north Sudan, which is campaigning to retain the country's unity, urged members of his party to deal "realistically" with the fact of south Sudan's possible secession.

The president sought to contain fears that the economy in north Sudan would collapse after the oil-producing south secedes; saying that north Sudan would compensate the loss with the revenues of exporting the south's oil through pipelines in the north.

The oil produced in South Sudan accounts for nearly 80 percent of the country's proven daily output of 490,000 barrels, but that oil is processed and exported through refineries and pipelines owned by the north. Both sides will need to cooperate on oil, at least in the short run.

President Al-Bashir also wanted to reassure and assuage tension surrounding the issue of citizenship rights in the case of south Sudan secession.

He said that even if southerners opted for secession, "the sentimental unity and social relations between north and south Sudan will remain standing."

Al-Bashir vowed that the rights of southern citizens staying in the north after secession would be safeguarded, saying that his party would not allow anyone to infringe on the rights of southerners in the north, their properties, freedoms and residence regardless of citizenship.

Al-Bashir called on the Government of Southern Sudan to do likewise with northerners staying in the south.

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