[QODLink]
Africa
South Sudan party backs secession
Official voices support for independence, but move is at odds with peace deal that vows to pursue unity.
Last Modified: 11 Dec 2010 22:03 GMT
Most analysts expect the south to vote to break away from northern Sudan [Reuters]

Southern Sudan's governing party has officially said it will support secession from the north in an independence referendum planned for next year.

The announcement on Saturday by the Sudan People's Liberation Movement (SPLM) is significant because it is at odds with the terms of the 2005 peace agreement that ended the south's civil war with northern Sudan.

In that deal, the SPLM agreed to work with the north's ruling National Congress Party (NCP) towards unity.

Anne Itto, from the SPLM, said: "Since unity has not been made attractive, we are promoting what our people choose because we are following the people."

Asked what she meant, Itto answered "separation".

Her comments prompted an angry warning from the north, with Rabie Abdelati, Senior NCP official,  accusing Itto of breaking the terms of the peace deal.

"They [the SPLM] are now working for secession regardless of the result of the referendum ... The referendum will be nominal, illegal. I do not think that the NCP should recognise any process or any result that comes out of it," he said.

Referendum due

Itto is from the party's dominant southern sector. Yasir Arman, from the party's northern sector, declined to comment.

The referendum, which will decide whether the oil-producing south should secede or stay in Sudan, is scheduled for January 9.

The vote is a key part of the 2005 Comprehensive Peace Agreement (CPA) that ended Africa's longest-running civil war, in which an estimated two million people were killed.

Most analysts expect the south to vote to break away and split the country in two.

Organisers of the vote said on Wednesday that almost three million people have signed up to vote.

Talks to resume

Itto said that progress was slow on the remaining key issues that still need to be agreed between north and south before the polling day.

These include the final demarcation of the border between north and south, the sharing of oil revenues and the status of southerners in the north and northerners in the south if the region votes to break away.

Itto said that there had so far been "little progress" on these issues.

"We have had several meetings with no success at all, not in security, not in international treaties, not in finance, economic issues, natural resources, not even in citizenship.

"If you add all that together it is a clear indication as to how NCP doesn't want to get to referendum," she added.

Talks are due to resume on Monday.

Source:
Agencies
Topics in this article
People
Country
Organisation
Featured on Al Jazeera
Swathes of the British electorate continue to show discontent with all things European, including immigration.
Astronomers have captured images of primordial galaxies that helped light up the cosmos after the Big Bang.
Critics assail British photographer's portrayal of indigenous people, but he says he's highlighting their plight.
As Western stars re-release 1980s charity hit, many Africans say it's a demeaning relic that can do more harm than good.
Featured
No one convicted after 58 people gunned down in cold blood in 2009 in the country's worst political mass killing.
While hosting the World Internet Conference, China tries Tiananmen activist for leaking 'state secrets' to US website.
Once staunchly anti-immigrant, some observers say the conservative US state could lead the way in documenting migrants.
NGOs say women without formal documentation are being imprisoned after giving birth in Malaysia.
Public stripping and assault of woman and rival protests thereafter highlight Kenya's gender-relations divide.