“There has been strong support for this historic poll. Millions of voters have enthusiastically taken the opportunity for self-determination and waited patiently for their turn to vote. I would like to commend the Southern Sudan Referendum Commission and UN personnel in Sudan for the way this referendum has been conducted,” Mr Støre continued.
An announcement on the result of the referendum is expected in February. There is every indication that there will be a majority in favour of independence and the establishment of a new African state after the transitional period ends in July this year.
“I welcome the reassurances by President Bashir that he will respect the result of the referendum and take steps to strengthen ties between north and south. It is also encouraging that President Salva Kiir of the Government of Southern Sudan has called on the Sudanese to seek reconciliation and cooperation. Leaders in both north and south have shown great political courage in the last few weeks. We hope that this will create a positive departure point,” remarked the Foreign Minister.
The referendum on the future status of Southern Sudan is the most important milestone in the implementation of the Comprehensive Peace Agreement of 2005, which Norway helped to negotiate and has followed up in a close dialogue with both parties. Norway has provided NOK 48 million in support of the election process, and has posted three observers to Sudan.
Minister of the Environment and International Development Erik Solheim commented: “Norway has been involved in Sudan for many years, and we intend to continue our engagement in both parts of the country. The development and distribution of petroleum resources, institution building in Southern Sudan, support for the UN and the fight against the overwhelming poverty in the country will be important tasks for us for many years to come.”