I thank Mr. Le Roy, President Mkapa, the State Minister for Humanitarian Affairs of the Sudan Mr. Mutrif Siddiq, and the Secretary-General of the Sudan People’s Liberation Movement, Mr. Pagan Amum, for their presence and their presentations.
Now, a few weeks before the referendum, everything should be in place for the voting to take place on the scheduled date. The authorities of Khartoum and Juba, the Referendum Commission and all stakeholders must make every possible effort so that that vital stage in the implementation of the Comprehensive Peace Agreement can be completed.
The concern about the preparations must be assuaged. In that regard, we welcome the commitment made by the parties on 15 November not to return to violence to settle their disputes. However, the bombings by the Government of the Sudan on the border of the states of Bahr el Ghazal and South Darfur in recent days, which caused displacements of the civilian populations, are of concern. We call on the parties to maintain their mutual trust and to immediately stop their violence.
The voting process must be fair and transparent. The deployment to the Sudan of several election observer missions, of the European Union in particular, will make it possible to have indicators of the conditions in which the referendum is taking place. It is up to the Secretary-General’s Panel on the Referenda, led by President Mkapa — to whose work I would like to pay tribute — to provide the international community with a clear view of the overall referendum proceedings. We took note of the Panel’s encouraging statement at the end of the registration period. However, we also noted the Panel’s concerns with regard to the people’s committees in the North, which apparently dissuaded some potential voters. We are paying close attention to the observations and future conclusions of Mr. Mkapa’s Panel.
Preparing for the referendum is also preparing for its aftermath. We pay tribute to the efforts of President Mbeki and of the African Union’s High-Level Implementation Panel for holding discussions on the issue of Abyei and the post-referendum matters.
However, we are concerned by the lack of agreement at this stage on Abyei. We encourage the parties to continue their efforts and to make, at the appropriate time, the necessary concessions in order to reach an agreement as soon as possible.
We have been informed about the admission to hospital of Special Representative Haile Menkerios. Allow me here once again to commend his work at the head of the United Nations Mission in the Sudan (UNMIS) and to wish him a good recovery. We encourage UNMIS to continue its efforts, and we welcome the fact that it has redeployed its staff to strengthen its presence in areas of potential tension.
In the current context, we must not forget Darfur. The war between the Sudanese armed forces and the rebel groups continues, as demonstrated by the deadly fighting in Khor Abeche on 10 and 11 December, which caused more than 10 thousand civilians to be displaced.
A political solution is essential. In that context, the Council must continue to provide its support to the joint mediation efforts in Doha. It is unacceptable for the two main rebel groups to continue to remain outside that process. We call upon them to rejoin the discussions without delay or preconditions.
For its part, UNAMID must continue its efforts to protect civilians, pursuant to its mandate. We urge the force to step up its efforts to strengthen its position and to implement, at all levels and in all circumstances, its strategy for protecting civilians. In that respect, progress is still possible and necessary. Obstacles to the force’s free movement must also be lifted.
I will conclude by reminding members, a few days after Prosecutor Moreno-Ocampo’s worrying briefing to the Council, that there can be no peace without justice in Darfur. The crimes committed there cannot go unpunished. We therefore call for cooperation by all States with the International Criminal Court pursuant to Council resolution 1593 (2005).