A new era for Sudan

“The referendum on independence  for South Sudan  is a historic watershed for Sudan. It is also of great importance to the region and to Africa as a whole,” said Prime Minister Jens Stoltenberg.

The referendum on the future status of South Sudan is the most important milestone in the implementation of the Comprehensive Peace Agreement of 2005, which Norway helped to negotiate. The agreement put an end to the most protracted civil war in Africa, in which an estimated 2 million people lost their lives and over 4 million became refugees.

The referendum started Jan. 9, and everything is set for it to be carried out as planned.

“I am pleased that the political leaders in both the North and the South have taken responsibility by making statements over the past few days that pave the way for a successful referendum,” said Mr Stoltenberg. “It is encouraging that both parties have assured that regardless of the outcome, they will respect the result of the referendum, safeguard voters’ democratic rights, and improve relations between the North and the South. Norway stands ready to continue its longstanding engagement in Sudan.”

Almost 4 million South Sudanese are eligible to vote in the referendum over the coming week. Everything seems to point towards a majority for secession and the establishment of a new African state. The Comprehensive Peace Agreement remains in force for six more months, and it is expected that a new state in the South will be declared on 9 July 2011.

“Even if the South chooses independence, there will be very strong ties between North and South Sudan, and they will be dependent on each other. Cooperation is essential to ensure peace and stability. Norway’s engagement in Sudan goes far back, and will continue as we now enter a new era,” said Foreign Minister Jonas Gahr Støre. “I would, however, like to point out that even if the referendum is carried out as planned, the parties need to settle a range of unresolved, crucial issues by means of negotiations over the next six months.”

Norway, together with other actors, will continue to support the parties in their further efforts to find constructive and fruitful solutions to the outstanding issues. Norway has provided advisory assistance to the parties, particularly on the issue of petroleum resources. There is intense international focus on Sudan, and Norway will continue to follow developments closely, also after the referendum.

Norway played an active role in the negotiations that led to the 2005 Comprehensive Peace Agreement. Norway, the US and the UK, known as the troika, have been instrumental in securing international follow-up and support. Norway also chaired the group (Sudan Consortium) that drew up the basis  for international assistance to Sudan following the signing of the peace agreement. The total assistance provided by Norway since the signing amounts to NOK 600-700 million per year. The assistance is targeted at programmes that are particularly important for the implementation of the peace agreement. Norway will continue its engagement in both the North and the South, and will focus particularly on resource management (oil), capacity-building in the South, humanitarian assistance and support for the UN’s numerous tasks in the country.

Source: Office of the Prime Minister

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