At the behest of Federal Foreign Minister Guido Westerwelle, Walter Lindner, the Director General for African Affairs at the Federal Foreign Office, will travel to New York this week, where he will participate along with Germany’s UN ambassador Peter Wittig in the UN Security Council’s deliberations on the situation in the Sudan.
The main topic on the agenda will be the forthcoming referendum on independence for Southern Sudan, which is due to start on 9 January 2011. Prior to the Security Council debate Director-General Lindner will hold talks at the State Department in Washington.
Federal Minister Westerwelle today (4 January) issued the following statement on developments in the Sudan:
“The referendum is a critical turning-point for the Sudan. Whatever decision voters in Southern Sudan make about their future, it must be respected. In the interest of the Sudan and the region as a whole, the situation must not be allowed to escalate. We will work together with all forces in the Sudan as well as our international partners to build lasting stability there.”
The referendum in Southern Sudan is due to start on 9 January 2011 and likely to last until 15 January 2011. All southerners who had registered by 8 December 2010 are entitled to vote. Under the relevant law, the outcome of the referendum must be announced no later than 30 days after voting ends. If a majority in the South votes in favour, independence should take effect six months later.
Arrangements for the referendum are going ahead at top speed. While the electoral roll is not ready as of now, there is little doubt the referendum will start on schedule. Between 1956 1972 and 1982-2005 the north and south of the Sudan fought two civil wars over the issue of self-determination for the south. 2005 saw the signing of the Comprehensive Peace Agreement, which launched a step-by-step peace process culminating in the referendum now about to start.
The Federal Foreign Office and Foreign Minister Westerwelle are concerned not only about the referendum but also about the faltering Darfur peace talks in Doha/Qatar, especially now the Khartoum Government has recalled its negotiating team. Together with our partners, Germany will press for the negotiations to resume as soon as possible. We are supporting the Darfur peace talks by providing both financial and technical assistance.
Director-General Lindner leaves today (4 January) for Washington, his first stop, where he will hold talks at the State Department. The Sudan consultations in the UN Security Council will take place on Thursday (6 January).