Khartoum Warns Against South Sudan Independence Declaration

August 19, 2010 (Khartoum) — The Sudanese government on Thursday warned against any move by the autonomous Government of Southern Sudan (GoSS) to declare Southern Sudan as an independence state, saying the ruling party in the South will commit “political suicide” if it (the SPLM) chooses parliamentary vote without a referendum.

The warning comes just one day after Juba unveiled an ambitious plan for future cities of Southern Sudan – a plan designed to transform the war-torn region into animal-shaped cities.

“The SPLM wanted to divide Sudan. If the movement decided on declaring South Sudan’s independence by a parliamentary vote without a referendum it would be committing political suicide”, Sudan’s ruling National Congress party deputy chairman Nafie Ali Nafie told reporters in Khartoum.

Dr. Nafie, who is also senior advisor to President Omar Hassan al-Bashir, defended his party stance on the referendum process saying the NCP will agree to hold the referendum on time if it serves the best interest of the people of Southern Sudan.

The special advisor to the president accuses the SPLM of working against the unity of the Sudan.

The US special envoy to Sudan Major General Scott Gration (Ret.) is in Sudan for several days visit amid fear that the 2005 Comprehensive Peace Agreement (CPA) may turn to a new North-South civil war.

Before Gration departure to Sudan, the US State Department expressed "concern and dissatisfaction" over the upcoming referendum vote which is an important part of the CPA.

"We believe that keeping the referenda on track is part of building a lasting peace and our ultimate goal is, obviously, full implementation of the CPA. So we don’t want to see any delays”, Acting Deputy US State Department Spokesman Mark Toner said.

The Southern Sudan Referendum Commission tasked with day-to-day operations of the referendum is deadlocked over the selection of its Secretary General.

The two main peace partners formed the nine member commission in June as part of their commitment to implement the 2005 Comprehensive Peace Agreement.

The people of South Sudan are expected to choose secession over unity by January 2011.

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