Sudan’s census impasse risks return to war-Minister

Source: AlertNet
By Frank Nyakairu and Katie Nguyen

KAMPALA (AlertNet) – Disagreements over final figures of the recent census in Sudan are likely to disrupt the countries first democratic polls in 20 years and risk a return to war, a top minister has said. The north and south fought a two-decade civil war that ended with a 2005 peace deal. But relations remain tense and the agreement faces important tests soon — national elections next year then a referendum on southern independence in 2011. Nyal Deng Nyal, a minister for Sudan People Liberation Movement Affairs (SPLM) in the south told AlertNet that contested census results, which give South Sudanese 21 percent of the country’s total population, remain a sticking point. “These doctored census results pause a serious impediment to the holding of the elections if the NCP (the ruling Naction Congress Party in the north) does not retract those results,” said Nyal, who led the peace negotiations the ended the war in 2005. According the peace deal, independence will be granted if backed by 50 percent plus one vote in a referendum. Going by the current census figures at least two-thirds of registered voters will have to cast ballots for the result to be valid. “If we use these figures, the NCP will win landslide victories in most of the constituencies and we cannot let that happen,” said Nyal. “A lot of people are now suggesting that there no reason to participate in these elections because they will not be free or fair,” he added. The vote set for April 2010 is crucial to the success of a peace deal which ended a civil war between north and south Sudan, and to the chances of Africa’s largest country achieving long-term stability. Voters will choose Sudan’s president, members of parliament, state governors and members of state assemblies. In the south, citizens will also select Southern Sudan’s president and members of its legislative assembly. “These are violations will undermine the CPA the when there is a real possibility of going back to square one. If Sudan goes back to war, on top of what is happening in Darfur, it will be very bad,” said Nyal Nyal accused NCP of “pouring arms in frontier states where tribal violence has killed at least 1,200 people this year according to UN estimates. Tribal clashes in south Sudan’s states of Jonglei, Upper Nile and Lakes have also displaced 250,000 people. “We know it for a fact that Khartoum is arming all Arab tribes in on the north of the border as well as some tribes on the south. This is very dangerous but SPLM has launched an arms collection drive to make sure illegal arms are reduced in the population,” said Nyal. “We don’t manufacture arms in southern Sudan and there are no arms coming into Sudan through Southern Sudan but there fresh arms coming in they are from the north,” he said. But a study by Geneva-based Small Arms Survey, accused militaries in north and south Sudan of engaging in an arms race that risks plunging the nation back into civil war. Nyal led a South Sudanese delegation to the Ugandan capital where African Union Heads of State were expected to ratify a landmark convention that aimed at finding solutions to displaced people and refugees on the African continent. But Sudan’s leader, whose country hosts the biggest number of refugees on the Africa continent, did not attend. On the sidelines of the AU summit, the Sudanese parties were to discuss implementation of the peace deal who must be complete by 2011. “The absence of the NCP in this crucial meeting shows how troublesome they are to the CPA and we will not leave any stone unturned to make sure that we have free and fair elections.”
spotted by RS

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