Ambassador Raff Bukun-Olu Onemola
Ambassador/Deputy Permanent Representative
Permanent Mission of Nigeria to the United Nations
New York, NY
16th December, 2010
I would like to thank you, Madam President, for organizing this important meeting on the Sudan. Let me also thank Under Secretary-General Alain Le Roy for his briefing on the preparations for the referendums to be held in the Sudan on 9 January 2011.
Nigeria welcomes the presence here of former President Benjamin Mkapa, whose new role will be to chair the Secretary-General’s Panel on the Referenda in the Sudan. We have great confidence in his ability to discharge the duties entrusted to him. Let me also welcome His Excellency Mr. Mutrif Siddiq, State Minister at the Ministry of Humanitarian Affairs of the Sudan, as well as Mr. Pagan Amum, Secretary General of the Sudan People’s Liberation Movement (SPLM). I thank them for their respective perspectives.
The various accounts we have heard this morning are not only reassuring, they also provide affirmation of the willingness and commitment of the parties to the Comprehensive Peace Agreement (CPA) vis-à-vis their obligations. Indeed, the statements suggest that the preparations for the conduct of free, fair and credible referendums are on track, in particular in southern Sudan. The conclusion of the voter registration exercise was therefore a significant milestone, for which we commend both the Southern Sudan Referendum Commission and the Southern Sudan Referendum Bureau.
In the current circumstances, there is an obligation to encourage the parties to the CPA to dissipate the climate of fear and distrust and create confidence in the referendums, which are just 24 days away. The first step towards achieving that is for the parties to cease all hostilities and military activities, in particular the recent bombings in the Kiir River Valley. The parties to the CPA, the Sudan People’s Liberation Movement/National Congress Party and the SPLM, must redouble their efforts and remain committed to the full implementation of the Agreement.
The negotiations launched on post-referendum arrangements following the memorandum of understanding of 23 June, with the help of the African Union High-Level Implementation Panel, led by
President Thabo Mbeki, should by now be producing substantive outcomes. Indeed, the four working groups set up to organize the negotiations should intensify their engagement on border demarcation, citizenship, wealth-sharing, economic cooperation, grazing rights and security.
The appointment of the Abyei Referendum Commission and the commencement of the popular consultations in Southern Kordofan and Blue Nile states are also important, in particular as both processes are provided for in the CPA. We urge the Southern Sudan Referendum Commission to expeditiously complete the printing of ballot papers for the exercise in a transparent manner in order to bolster confidence in the process. It is important that clarity is achieved as soon as possible on the post-referendum status of southerners in the north and northerners in the south. The rhetoric should be turned down.
Both parties have an obligation to seek an equitable and mutually beneficial mode of peaceful coexistence, either in unity or separately. The United Nations and the international community have a prominent role to play in ensuring free and fair referendums and a suitable outcome. It is also critical that we define the framework for interaction and dialogue between the north and the south before the referendums are held. We urge the parties to remove all restrictions on the movement of the personnel of the United Nations Mission in the Sudan.
On Darfur, Nigeria welcomes the intensification of the discussions to reach a peace agreement. It is encouraging that the final peace agreement between the Sudanese Government and the rebel Liberation and Justice Movement (LJM) will be signed on 19 December. We commend Joint Chief Mediator Bassolé in that regard and urge both the LJM and the Sudan Liberation Movement, led by Abdel Wahid el-Nur, to rejoin the peace process. We are pleased that the African Union-United Nations Hybrid Operation in Darfur is speeding up the necessary steps to establish the ceasefire commission and the joint monitoring mechanism.
Finally, we thank Member States that have committed their troops and those that have provided logistical and technical expertise. That will go a long way in helping to solve some of the logistical problems currently confronting the preparations for the referendum in the Sudan