Sudan’s President Omar al-Bashir may be wanted by the International Criminal Court for war crimes and crimes against humanity including genocide in Darfur, but his Khartoum led government has taken steps forward in implementing the 2005 peace accord between north and south Sudan including giving southerners the chance to vote in a referendum on independence.
President al-Bashir’s commitment to the peace accord has pleased US Senator John Kerry. He called Bashir’s recent promises to support the south, whether or not it votes to secede, “extremely encouraging.”
“As recently as only a few months ago, many people didn’t believe we could get here. Now we’re not there yet… But the hope is that this [referendum] will be an example to the world of responsible leadership,” Senator Kerry was quoted as saying.
Speaking to reporters after his meeting with Khartoum authorities, Senator Kerry told reporters that the Sudan’s government deserved credit for what they had done since the 2005 peace accord was signed.
“They deserve credit for making the decision… to deliver on the CPA,” he added of the peace accord that ended a devastating 22-year north-south war and gave southerners the chance to vote in a referendum on independence that kicks off on Sunday.
Senator Kerry who chairs the US Senate Foreign Relations Committee, has been in Khartoum all week and has met with Sudan’s presidential advisers Ghazi Salaheddine and Nafie Ali Nafie, and Vice President Ali Othman Taha.
“The government in the north has helped, insisted on calming people down where needed, in providing the salaries and paying the money that was due and helping to set up the referendum structure,” Kerry told reporters.
Observing the progress made in the implementation of the 2005 peace deal, Senator Kerry promised that Washington will stay engaged with north Sudan after an independence referendum in southern Sudan.
“The United States played an important role in ending the civil war in Sudan and making the vote this Sunday [Jan. 9] possible. Our commitment to the Sudanese people will extend beyond the referendum, whatever its outcome, as we work to improve economic and humanitarian conditions in the region,” Kerry had pledged before reporters in Khartoum.
North and south Sudan signed the peace agreement in 2005 after a devastating 22-year civil war, which included holding a referendum on whether the south secedes or remains part of a united country.