August 8, 2010 / 9:08 PM / 9 years ago

South Sudan vote delay would threaten peace-SPLM

* SPLM says any attempt to delay reneges on peace deal

* South to go ahead with self determination even if no vote * Says talks on post-vote arrangements due to start Monday

By Opheera McDoom

KHARTOUM, Aug 8 (Reuters) - South Sudan’s ruling party said on Sunday any attempt to delay the south’s January vote on independence would mean reneging on the 2005 north-south peace deal that ended Africa’s longest civil war.

A member of the referendum commission said on Saturday there was not enough time to organise the plebiscite according to the law by Jan. 9, 2011 and advocated a delay. [ID:nMCD759260]

The north’s dominant National Congress Party is actively campaigning for unity, fearing the loss of its oil resources, much of which lies along the still disputed north-south border.

But the former southern rebel Sudan People’s Liberation Movement (SPLM) said if there was any obstruction or delay to the vote, then the south would exercise its right to self determination by other means.

"Any attempt to delay the referendum ... will be reneging on the peace deal and a danger to the overall process of peace in Sudan," SPLM Secretary-General Pagan Amum said.

Amum said it was still possible to have the vote — which most analysts believe will result in secession — on time, with support from the United Nations.

If there was any attempt to delay or derail it, he said south Sudan’s parliament would decide on ways southerners could exercise their right to self-determination.

"One of them could be that the parliament of southern Sudan takes over the process of organising the referendum fully without the north if the obstruction is coming from the north," Amum told reporters in Khartoum.

"Another one would be carrying out a vote in parliament which is not necessarily a universal declaration of independence," he said, adding the 2005 deal allowed for this.

Sudan’s south, which follows mostly traditional beliefs or Christianity has fought with the Mainly Muslim north on and off since 1955 in a conflict fuelled by oil, ethnicity and ideology.

The former foes have argued and stalled over implementing almost every part of the 2005 agreement and SPLM officials have begun to make more secessionist comments in recent months.

The two parties will begin long-delayed negotiations on post-referendum arrangements including defining citizenship, the border and wealth-sharing on Monday, Amum said.

The conflict claimed 2 million lives mainly through hunger and disease, aid agencies say, with more than 4 million driven from their homes, destabilising much of east Africa.

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