Thank you Mr. President,
Mr. President, I would like to start by thanking Special Representative Haile Menkerios and President Benjamin Mkapa for their comprehensive briefings as well as for the significant work so far undertaken.
We are encouraged by their analyses and evaluation, albeit the problems that still lie ahead.
Portugal welcomes the conclusion of a generally peaceful and orderly polling process for the referendum on the self-determination of Southern Sudan and congratulates the Sudanese people for their patience and peaceful determination to cast their ballots and the orderly way which characterized the voting. We also congratulate the leadership of Sudan for this historical accomplishment. This was indeed a milestone not only in the implementation of the 2005 Comprehensive Peace Agreement, but also in terms of underlining the Sudanese’s people’s attachment to democratic process.
Let me also commend the work of the Southern Sudan Referendum Commission in Khartoum and in Juba, for their efforts to make this referendum happen despite serious time constraints and numerous challenges, as well as the two parties to the CPA for standing up to the political commitment required to ensure that the peace process moves forward.
Portugal would like to voice appreciation for the support the UN Mission in Sudan has provided, as well as for the work of observer groups, including the very significant EU Election Observation Mission, that travelled throughout Sudan to assess the situation.
We also extend a word of gratitude and appreciation to the work of the Secretary General’s Panel.
The process is not, however, finished, and the transmission of the results from nearly 3000 referendum centers has just started. We call on the people and parties of Sudan to exercise the necessary restrain until the Southern Sudan Referendum Commission announces the final result of the referendum, for which timelines have already been set. During this period, it is essential that all citizens are kept well-informed of the progress towards the final results.
We call on all the parties to respect the outcome of the referendum, which translates the expression of the free will of the people, and to refrain from any unilateral action.
While Sudan waits for provisional and final results, protection of fundamental rights of all Sudanese citizens is paramount. We therefore urge the parties to CPA to reassure to people of all nationalities in Sudan, including Southerners in the North and Northerners in the South, that their rights, safety and property will continue to be respected.
Despite the remarkable operational and political achievement the referendum represents, the work to complete the implementation of the CPA is not over and it will require persistent, patient, and methodical negotiation from both parties, as well as a spirit of compromise and cooperation.
We are encouraged by the public commitments by President Bashir and First Vice President Salva Kiir to continuing negotiations on outstanding CPA issues once the results are announced. In this context, it is of the utmost importance that the parties find an agreement on Abyei, the absence of which is partially responsible for ongoing instability and acts of violence that we strongly deplore.
Along with the future of the Abyei region, we also recall the need of timely and transparent Popular Consultations in Southern Kordofan and Blue Nile States.
Unfortunately, the peaceful climate around the referendum cannot be extended to Darfur. We remain deeply concerned by the increase in violence and insecurity in Darfur and we condemn the kidnapping on 13 January of three members of the United Nations Humanitarian Air Service and we urge their immediate release.
We call on the parties to cease hostilities immediately as well as to ensure full and unhindered access for UNAMID throughout the mission area and to allow humanitarian workers to provide assistance to all populations in need.
We continue to underscore the need for a political resolution for the crisis and urge all the groups to join and actively engage in the peace process without further delay or preconditions.
Mr. President, I conclude:
During the last two weeks, the Sudanese authorities implemented the Referendum on self-determination for Southern Sudan envisaged in the 2005 Comprehensive Peace Agreement that ended the 22 year civil war. The calm and orderly environment in which it took place gives us renewed faith in a peaceful and prosperous future for all the Sudanese. In order for this goal to be achieved, we need the continuing engagement of all parties, international and bilateral partners included. It is fundamental that the international community continues to support both the North and the South, regardless of the referendum outcome. Portugal stands ready to play her part.
Thank you Mr. President.