US Welcomes Recent Progress on Southern Sudan Referendum Preparations: State Department

September 15, 2010 (Washington) — The United States on Wednesday welcomes groundbreaking progress made by the Southern Sudan Referendum Commission to start “procurement of registration materials” so that upcoming referendum should be conducted on time.

“Today, the Southern Sudan Referendum Commission (SSRC) took the critical step of beginning the procurement of registration materials necessary for an on time referendum. To this same end, the Southern Sudan Legislative Assembly has released more than $80 million in additional referendum-related funding”, a statement published on State Department website explained.

“We are pleased to see tangible efforts by both parties and with only 114 days to go we call on them to continue to make progress. The United States is committed to supporting them in this work”, the statement added.

The move comes less than two months after one Southern Sudan Referendum Commission member, Tarig Osman, called for referendum vote to be delayed, claiming that the remaining time is not enough, prompting the Sudan People’s Liberation Movement (SPLM) to call for parliamentary vote if Sudan’s ruling National Congress party drags its feet on Southern Sudan referendum vote.

"We have only two choices — skip some of the procedures, which would be unacceptable because it could affect the endorsement of the referendum. The other choice is a limited delay to the referendum timetable to complete the procedures”, Osman said last month.

The two main partners to the CPA formed the nine member commission as part of their commitment to conduct Southern Sudan referendum vote, a key part of the 2005 peace deal.

The CPA which was signed on January 9, 2005, ended the bloody civil war between North and the South.

The Comprehensive Peace Agreement (CPA) allows the people of South Sudan to decide in next January whether or not they want to remain part of the united Sudan or form their own independent country.

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