By James Gatdet Dak
June 21, 2009 (JUBA) — Sudan’s federal capital, Khartoum, is agreed by the two parties to the 2005’s peace deal to be the seat of the would-be established commission for Southern Sudan referendum.
The Joint High Executive Political Committee between the National Congress Party (NCP) and the Sudan People’s Liberation Movement (SPLM) has been discussing, in Khartoum, the draft law which shall regulate the conduct of referendum in Southern Sudan due to take place in 2011.
The main issues being discussed include the seat of the Referendum Commission, its chairmanship, composition of the Commission, voter definition and qualification and voting centers.
The Acting Spokesperson and Minister of Telecommunications and Postal Services, Madut Biar, said the Council of Ministers meeting, chaired by President Salva Kiir Mayardit, was briefed on the referendum law debates on Friday by the Vice President, Dr. Riek Machar, who chairs the component of the SPLM Joint Committee.
Machar co-chairs the Joint Committee with Ali Osman Mohamed Taha, Vice President of the Republic of Sudan.
Biar said the Vice President briefed the cabinet on the status of discussions on referenda bills for Southern Sudan and Abyei as well as popular consultations bills for Nuba Mountains and Southern Blue Nile.
Biar further added that the SPLM committee also discussed the North-South border demarcation process and the need to implement the two-window system of the Bank of Sudan – Islamic and Conventional windows for North and South, respectively.
On the Southern Sudan referendum bill the two parties had reached an agreement or re-affirmed that the Commission should be based in Khartoum.
The SPLM’s committee had initially proposed that the seat of the referendum commission should be based in Juba, but the NCP rejected the proposal, saying it would amount to renegotiation of the peace deal, the Comprehensive Peace Agreement (CPA).
The CPA stipulates that the seat of the Southern Sudan referendum commission shall be based in Khartoum.
However, the SPLM’s committee had also proposed that the result of the votes on the referendum would be announced in Juba, not in Khartoum.
The two parties have also agreed on the composition of membership of the referendum commission to be nine in number including its chair.
Other pending issues such as chairmanship, voter definition and voting centers are yet to be agreed upon.
The SPLM’s position on the post-referendum arrangements, proposed by the NCP as part of the bill, is to discuss them in a different forum outside of referendum bill.
These post-referendum arrangements include what to do with the national assets, liabilities, currency, waters, Joint Integrated Units (JIUs), oil (its production, transportation and export) and international agreements.
Concurrent discussions by Machar’s legal team that includes the Minister of Legal Affairs and Constitutional Development, Michael Makuei Lueth, have been going on also for Abyei referendum bill and popular consultations bills for Southern Blue Nile and Nuba Mountains, respectively.
Biar also added that the Vice President informed the cabinet that the NCP was still dragging its feet on implementation of the two-window system for the Bank of Sudan; one for Islamic North and the other for Conventional South.
On the North-South border demarcation, he said the SPLM was pushing the joint demarcation committee to finish the process by July so that it submits the final report to the Presidency by September as scheduled.
Draft bills finalized at the parties’ Joint Committee level pass through the Council of Ministers in Khartoum for approval before they are presented to the National Assembly for deliberations and possible amendments and final endorsements before the President signs them into laws.