Anne Ito accuses NCP of deliberate delays on southern Sudan referendum

Category: Diaspora
Published on Saturday, 07 August 2010 16:37
Written by Brian Adeba, The New Sudan Vision (NSV),
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Anne Ito, deputy secretary general of the SPLM, addresses members of the South Sudanese community at the Bronson Centre in Ottawa on August 6, 2010. Photo by Brian Adeba/Special for NSV.

(Ottawa NSV) - The deputy secretary general of the SPLM has accused Sudan’s ruling National Congress Party of deliberately delaying the demarcation of contested border regions to ensure the referendum does not take place.

Speaking to South Sudanese Canadians at a public forum in Ottawa on Friday, Ito said the NCP’s delaying tactics are visible, especially in resource-rich areas.

“Every time they get to Kafia Kingi, Raja, and Karasana, they don’t see the border,” Ito said.

She added that the NCP’s refusal to name a secretary general for the referendum commission is also another sign of foot-dragging designed to block the holding of the referendum. The referendum commission was formed late last year, after considerable delay. The secretary general is considered crucial to organizing and directing the commission’s work at various administrative levels. Nine months later, the position remains vacant.

Ito said the SPLM has suggested several candidates for the position but the NCP has turned them down. With the onset of the holy month of Ramadan, where virtually all work slows down in Khartoum, Ito expressed skepticism about an appointment soon, hinting that it might well be in November.

While warning that the path to the referendum is littered with obstacles, Ito said the SPLM will work hard to thwart delays and ensure the referendum takes place on time.

“We will do everything possible, and we will exercise our right of referendum,” she said, urging the South Sudanese Diaspora to lobby the international community to pressure the Sudan government to respect referendum obligations.

“Khartoum only works under pressure and I urge you to play your role. This is the most critical period in our liberation struggle. Either we handle it well or we lose it,” she said.

Ito also said there is evidence that Khartoum is arming militia and tribal groups in South Sudan to create insecurity in the hope of displacing populations so that they don’t vote during the referendum. Such evidence, she said, was recently revealed by Charles Kisanga, the secretary general of the SPLM-DC, when he defected to the SPLM last month.

“The SPLM-DC is a political wing of a militia group. Most people don’t believe that, but there’s evidence,” she said.

In the contested Abyei region, Ito said Khartoum has recently armed the Arab Messiriya tribe, resulting in skirmishes with the Ngok Dinka.

Ito is heading a delegation of high ranking SPLM members invited by the Canadian government to learn about Canada’s past referendum experiences in the French-speaking province of Quebec. The Canadian government also invited an NCP delegation, which together with the SPLM members, has been on a tour of Quebec.

Praising the invitation, Ito said it marked a significant shift in the Canadian government’s attitude toward the SPLM.

“Before, we were rebels whom nobody wanted to talk to or grant visas to. Today we even have a mission in Ottawa,” she said.