, NAIROBI, Kenya, Feb 3 – Prime Minister Raila Odinga has called on the international community to let the people of Southern Sudan exercise their right to self-determination in a referendum scheduled for next year.
In a statement, the PM said it was imperative that the international community support the referendum as it was part of the issues agreed upon in the Comprehensive Peace Agreement (CPA) signed in Nairobi in 2005.
He emphasised that Kenya was fully committed to and would respect the outcome of a free and fair referendum, whether it favours a continuation of the union or creation of an independent state.
Mr Odinga said: “I strongly urge the entire international community to pursue a similar course and offer maximum assistance in implementing the referendum’s outcome, whatever it might be.”
Saying the CPA had made unprecedented advances in promoting democracy in the Sudan, Mr Odinga expressed concern that senior most officials in the United Nations and the African Union opposed the referendum’s option of creating a sovereign nation in the South.
He said such a stand would undermine the principle of peaceful resolution of disputes of which the CPA is an outstanding example globally. “Having done so much to advance this historic process of self-determination, it is preposterous that anyone would seek a pre-determined outcome in the referendum,” he added.
Mr Odinga pointed out that by the agreement coming to its current conclusive stage it was a tribute to the African Union which courageously broke with precedent and recognised that in the Sudan peace and development would not be divisive but actually strengthened if people of the south could exercise their right to self-determination.
He noted that the United Nations had also supported this historic initiative and will oversee the elections and the referendum.
The Premier however acknowledged that major challenges need to be resolved in order for the referendum to be completely free, fair and transparent, saying critical issues such as border demarcation and population census process need to be addressed.
He urged the Intergovernmental Authority on Development (IGAD) which was the convener and overseer of the peace talks in Nairobi to ensure that these outstanding issues are resolved in a manner that creates confidence in the ultimate referendum outcome.
“Unresolved they pose a serious danger to the holding of a peaceful and credible referendum,” he said. And added, “If the people are allowed to participate in a free and fair referendum , Sudan as one or two countries- will be stronger for it and this in turn will promote peace, democracy and stability in the entire region and globally.”