SUDAN WATCH: National Assembly endorses S. Sudan Referendum Law

Tuesday, December 29, 2009

National Assembly endorses S. Sudan Referendum Law

Southerners who have lived in the north since independence can choose where to vote.

Report from SRS - Sudan Radio Service, Tuesday, 29 December 2009:
National Assembly Endorses Southern Sudan Referendum Law
(Khartoum) – The controversial referendum law for southern Sudan was passed on Tuesday by the National Assembly following a long meeting between the SPLM and the NCP.

The amended law approved by MPs includes a provision demanded by southern politicians that enables southerners living outside the south to cast their ballots in the south.

A previous version adopted unilaterally by the NCP last week prompted a walkout from parliament by southern politicians fearful that if southerners voted in the north they might be subject to intimidation and vote-rigging by the NCP.

In an interview with SRS outside the parliament buildings in Omdurman, Justin Joseph Marona, the co-chairman of SPLM-NCP parliamentary emergency joint committee, said the contentious issues within the bill had been resolved.

[Mr. Justin Marona]: “We’ve agreed that Article 27(3), which was deleted, should be put back. This section enables southerners residing in northern Sudan since independence to return to southern Sudan to prove their ethnic origins (sic). We also added a section that says southerners who have lived in the north since independence can choose where to vote.”

However, Marona, who is negotiating on behalf of the SPLM on the joint committee, said there are still serious differences between the SPLM and the NCP over the Abyei referendum and the popular consultation process for Blue Nile and Nuba Mountains.

[Justin Marona]: “There are still differences over Article 24 that says that the Messiriya groups should vote in the Abyei referendum. But according to the Protocol and the ruling at The Hague, Abyei is the area where the nine Dinka Ng’ok tribes and their chiefs live. So this is the area where the referendum will take place. There will be a meeting shortly over this law. There are also differences over the popular consultation legislation. But our stance has been very clear in all the negotiations.”

Marona expressed his optimism that the differences will soon be resolved in the course of meetings between the SPLM Vice Chairman, Dr. Riek Machar and the 2nd Vice President of the Republic, Ali Osman Mohammed Taha.

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