Seven Heads of State and Government on Tuesday pressurised Sudan to ensure free and fair elections during its first democratic polls in 25 years, scheduled for next month.
President Kibaki led his counterparts from the Inter-Governmental Authority and Development in also calling on President Omar Bashir’s administration to fast track and fully implement the peace deal that ended 21 years of war in the country.
The Igad leaders were joined by former President Moi, Burundi’s former President Pierre Buyoya, South Africa’s Foreign Minister Ms Maite Nkoana-Mashabane, the African Union and the Arab League in restating that the polls were crucial in Sudan’s democratic transformation and peace and stability in the region.
The leaders included Ethiopia Prime Minister Meles Zenawi, Uganda President Yoweri Museveni, Djibouti President Ismail Omar Guelleh, Somalia Prime Minister Ali Sharmarkel, Sudan First Vice-President Salva Kiir who is also Southern Sudan’s President.
Also present were Kenya Prime Minister Raila Odinga and Vice-President Kalonzo Musyoka, and President Obama’s special envoy on Sudan Major General Scott Gration.
Sudan second Vice-President Ali Mohamed Taha however said Sudan was confident the April polls and self-determination referendum set for January next year would be conducted in a free, fair and transparent manner.
“Elections are true exercise of democracy. We are confident they will be fair, transparent and peaceful,” Mr Taha said, contradicting Mr Kiir who had urged the international community to intervene and ensure the polls were done well.
M Kiir added that to southern Sudanese people, the referendum that will decide whether the region should breakaway or remain under united Sudan was more important than the elections.
“We will defend our right to self-determination at any cost,” Mr Kiir said and urged the international community to ensure the Comprehensive Peace Agreement reached between his Sudan People’s Liberation Movement/Army and Bashir’s National Congress Party was fully implemented and as per agreed timetable.
He said: “Igad should continue playing a leading role in the implementation of this final lap of our journey,” Mr Kiir said.
Speaking during the 14th Extra-Ordinary Summit of IGAD Assembly of Heads of State and Government on the Sudan peace process in Nairobi, President Kibaki said the elections are major milestones that will shape the future of Africa’s biggest country.
He however said a number of issues including agreement on post-referendum arrangements; completion of the demarcation of the north/south border and that of Abyei still needed urgent attention and collaboration.
Another is completion of the redeployment of the military forces; and dealing with the intermittent skirmishes in the south.
Former President Moi said the demarcation of boundaries should be done on an integrated manner to reach an amicable settlement so that no section of Sudan gains or loses out.
“After all Sudan will remain Sudan, and none will develop wings and can fly to the Pacific or the Atlantic,” he said amid laughter from participants.