UN urges calm in Southern Sudan after preliminary referendum results

UNITED NATIONS: The United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon on Monday urged both sides for calm in Southern Sudan after preliminary referendum results were announced.

Southern Sudan Referendum Commission announced that the preliminary results indicate that the people of Southern Sudan voted overwhelming in favor of secession from the rest of the country.

Secretary-General Ban commending the two sides for the peaceful conduct of the January referendum on the self-determination of Southern Sudan and urged to remain calm as the results of the referendum on the future of the south are finalized.

"Sudan has reached a historic point. All reports indicate a generally peaceful referendum process with a large turnout," Ban said in a high-level meeting on Sudan convened by the UN and the African Union (AU) in the Ethiopian capital, Addis Ababa.

The January referendum was the culmination of the Comprehensive Peace Agreement (CPA) signed in 2005 to end two decades of civil war between the Government of Sudan and the Sudan People"s Liberation Movement/Army (SPLM/A).

"As the Sudanese people adjust to the new realities on the ground, the CPA parties must shift their attention to the key post-referendum arrangements that will sustain the North-South relationship in the long term," the UN chief added.

Ban remarked that for future of the region it is necessary an agreement on the sharing of oil revenue as well as border demarcations for a peaceful migration of communities between the two territories.

The UN head met also with U.S. Deputy Secretary of State, James Steinberg, and agreed that Southern Sudan should focus on resolving post-referendum issues and in establishing strong democratic institutions

However, the Secretary-General deplored the outbreak of violence in the conflicted Abyei reguion as the rest of the Southern Sudan voted and urged both parties to the CPA to prevent any further violence in the area and other border regions.

Abyei, an area which straddles both North and South, had its own referendum on whether to join the North or South delayed amid local disagreements. Ban called for renewed support for the UN-AU peacekeeping mission in Darfur (UNAMID) to face escalating violence.

"They deserve from the international community the same high levels of cohesion and urgency we have demonstrated in the work of implementing the CPA," the Secretary-General concluded.


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