Sudan at crossroads, Ban says

Feb. 1, 2011 at 4:04 PM
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ADDIS ABABA, Ethiopia, Feb. 1 (UPI) -- Sudan has reached a turning point, though the survival of both governments depends on the strength of post-referendum reforms, the U.N. secretary-general said.

The vast majority of the eligible voters who took part in a referendum for an independent South Sudan voted in favor of the measure last month. The referendum was part of a 2005 peace agreement that brought an end to a brutal civil war in Sudan.

U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon said the future of the northern and southern governments depended on post-referendum issues like border demarcation and the sharing of oil revenue.

"And the futures of millions of southerners and northerners depend upon agreements that guarantee basic rights, freedom of movement and livelihoods, regardless of where they live," he added.

Human rights groups said the referendum was leaving the ongoing conflict in Sudan's troubled Darfur region all-but ignored. Ban, during his statement to African leaders gathered in Ethiopia, said it was time to focus on the violence in Darfur.

"All parties to the conflict should put down their arms and engage with the peace process," he said in his statement. "Now is the time to step up our encouragement to the parties, to advise them that there will be rewards for peace, and consequences for further conflict."

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