Sudan: President Bashir retracts war talk

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After threatening that the only outcome he would accept from a January referendum that could split Africa’s largest nation was a vote for unity, Sudan’s President Omar al-Bashir has assured the international community that northern Sudan would not return to war with the south, otherwise.

President Bashir who is wanted by the International Criminal court (ICC) has stated that his government was working for peace.

“There will be no return to war. The government is working to keep the peace. The referendum result will not be the end of the world,” SUNA news agency quoted President Bashir as saying.

Sudan’s Defense Minister Abdel Rahim Mohammed Hussein on Tuesday hinted that the referendum could be delayed as a result of persistent wrangling between northern and southern leaders about the demarcation line between the two regions joined by the oil-rich Abyei region.

Southern Sudan leaders have warned that if there is any major delay by the north in organizing the referendum, they will go ahead and hold a vote of their own.

Reports claimed that both northern and southern leaders had deployed troops to the disputed oil region of Abyei in anticipation of war.

“Despite our commitment to the Comprehensive Peace Agreement, we will not accept an alternative to unity,” Bashir had told MPs in Khartoum on October 12.

The UN Mission in Sudan has redeployed it peacekeepers in the south to beef up its presence at certain hot spots on the border.

The January referendum on independence for the south is the backbone of a 2005 peace deal which brought an end to Africa’s longest-running civil war in which an estimated UN report claimed two million people died.

Contrary to the claims of the Defense Minister, the commission tasked with organizing a referendum on independence for south Sudan said on Wednesday that it will be held on time on January 9.

While talk of a referendum continues, a UN committee that monitors sanctions against Sudan, including an arms embargo against the Darfur region which has been at war since 2003 revealed reports that show that Chinese bullets were used in attacks on UN peacekeepers in Darfur.

However, Beijing has threatened to block the report unless the wording is changed.

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