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Obama calls for Sudan referendum to take place on time

Reuters/ Mohamed Nureldin Abdallah

President Barack Obama and former South African president Thabo Mbeki have held talks on upcoming independence referendum in Sudan, insisting that that they should not be delayed.


Obama phoned Mbeki, who chairs the African Union High-Level Implementation Panel on Sudan, to discuss the issue which has been creating anxiety with less than three months to the vote.

A White House statement says the two leaders “discussed the important of moving ahead aggressively to support the negotiations (to organise the votes) and resisting any entreaties to delay.”

Sudan will have two ballots on 9 January on the independence of southern Sudan and the other on whether the oil-rich region of Abyei should link up with the north or south.

This comes as voting and civic education materials, that include voter registration kits, manuals and cards of referendum materials, started arriving from China for the crucial vote.

John Andruga Duku who heads the International Countdown to Southern Sudan Referendum told RFI the logistics is slowly getting in place.

The south Sudanese referendum bureau, “informed us that he has received material and that the preparations are in full gear,” he said.

Duka says delaying the referendum could upset the stability of the region. “We think that not having the referendum on time would mean one thing, going back to war, and so we applaud the sentiment of President Obama and we applaud the sentiment of Thabo Mbeki.”

Many fear the possibility of renewed fighting as the referendum commission struggles to organise the ballots just ten weeks before the set date for the referendum.



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