, NAIROBI, Kenya, Jan 5 – Kenya on Wednesday pledged to continue providing humanitarian, logistical and financial aid to Southern Sudan after Sunday\’s landmark referendum, "in the unlikely event that violence arises."
Acting Foreign Affairs Minister George Saitoti said that Kenya would support the outcome of the historic vote which could see the birth of a new country.
While speaking to journalists in Nairobi, Prof Saitoti noted that Kenya had set aside close to Sh227 million, in the current financial year, in aid of Southern Sudan\’s post referendum era.
"We will respect the wishes of the people of Southern Sudan in determining what they want their future to hold; it is not for us to say. But the Kenyan government has no doubt that the citizens of South Sudan will speak loudly through the ballot," he said.
Kenya had earlier committed Sh283 million to Southern Sudan in aid of capacity building as well as training for the developing civil service of the semi-autonomous government of Juba.
Although Prof Saitoti noted that the country faced weighty issues that required special attention, he was confident that peace would prevail throughout the voting period and especially in the greater Sudan.
He also urged the Sudanese people to remain calm and respect the results of the referendum.
"And of course you know there\’s the issue of the sharing of wealth between the two regions as well sharing the national debt that has been incurred over the years. Abyei is another issue that needs to be discussed but these issues will be dealt with later," he said.
Reports indicate that 80 percent of the country\’s oil reserves are located in the southern part of Sudan and some observers fear that the north might resist the split because of losing out on the revenue brought in by oil.
According to World Bank reports in 2009, Sudan\’s economy boomed on the back of increased oil production, high oil prices and large inflow of foreign direct investments, until the second half of 2008. it further indicates that Sudan produces around 500,000 barrels of crude oil per day out of which 400,000 is exported.
The country\’s external debt stands at Sh2.9 trillion.
Demarcation of the boundaries will also be a challenge to both the northern and southern parts of Sudan. The state of Abyei will also have to decide whether to join the north or south if the vote goes in favor of independence.
Prof Saitoti however explained that the north and south would settle for a soft border if they decided to split.
"The overriding concern is maintaining peace and that is a view held by both the north and south. I don\’t think fighting or civil war is an option any of the regions wants to take," he said.
He also urged Kenyans to pray for Sudan as it made the historical move.
Sudan has an estimated population of 42 million (according to the 2009 census) including 8.5 million people in the south.
While the Southern region is mostly secular, the north is strictly Islamic- a situation which caused the country second civil war in 1983.