EU chief lauds peaceful referendum, calls for vigilant media
By Julius N. Uma
January 14, 2010 (JUBA) – The head of the European Union Election Observation Mission (EU EOM) to Sudan said she was impressed with the peaceful manner in which the one-week long Southern Sudan referendum vote was being conducted, but urged the media to remain vigilant while reporting unfolding events.
Veronique De Keyser, a Belgium member of the European Parliament made these remarks during a media round table discussion on the ongoing referendum exercise, which ends on January 15.
“Sudan is now in its critical period. As such, the media needs to be more vigilant and report accurately to avoid creating volatile situations that are likely to undermine the outcome of this peaceful referendum,” said De Keyser, who played a similar role during Sudan’s 2010 general elections.
Most observers and analyst say the south is likely to vote for separation.
The self-determination referendum is a key part of the 2005 Comprehensive Peace Agreement (CPA); the accord that ended over two decades of a bloody civil war fought between north and south Sudan.
Overall, the EU has deployed 104 observers and analysts drawn from 27 different EU member states, as well as Norway, Switzerland and Canada. The EU team has been joined by a delegation of seven members of the European Parliament.
The EU chief, however, maintained that although few challenges have been cited by her observers during the voting exercise, it remains both the national and southern government’s mandate to ensure that people’s decisions are respected.
De Keyser also condemned the recent clashes reported in the oil-producing Abyei region and that on the border between Northern Bahr el Ghazal and Southern Kordofan, saying such unfortunate incidents undermine prospects for peace.
The EU election observation mission, she said, will give its preliminary findings on the outcomes of the referendum by January 18.