Saturday, November 6, 2010

Sudan vote talks start in Ethiopia

Addis Ababa, Saturday

Officials from both sides of Sudan and the international community began talks in the Ethiopian capital yesterday aimed at agreeing a frontier ahead of a referendum on independence for the south.

“There are just 66 days to go before the referendum in southern Sudan, and nine days before the registration of the voters will begin. There is no time to waste,” Ramtane Lamamra, the African Union’s top peace and security official, said.

In a planned ballot already beset by logistical problems, voters in the south are set to decide on January 9 whether to opt for secession or stay in a united Sudan.

Dogged by disagreements

The referendum in southern Sudan and the oil-rich Abyei region straddling north and south are part of a 2005 peace deal that ended a two-decade-old civil war in Sudan which left an estimated two million dead.

Plans for the referendum have been dogged by disagreements, in particular on the demarcation of the proposed border between north and south, the status of disputed Abyei, and security issues.

Neither Sudan’s President Omar al-Bashir nor Salva Kiir, the southern leader, attended the meeting. (AFP)

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