'Essential' for Sudan authorities to uphold rights in vote
The UN independent expert on Sudan said Friday Sudanese authorities must uphold human rights principles and peace to ensure that an upcoming vote on the south's future is credible.
"Sudan is at a critical juncture in its history with the referendum on the self-determination of southern Sudan less than four months away," Mohamed Chande Othman told the UN Human Rights Council in Geneva.
The expert, a Tanzanian judge, said he is "deeply troubled" by violence and human rights violations which had taken place in southern Sudan after recent elections, in particular "violence used against civilians by the SPLA."
"Ensuring a peaceful and conducive environment for the people of southern Sudan to make their choice freely and in safety will be a critical challenge," he said.
"It is essential that authorities uphold human rights principles as a way of ensuring a peaceful and credible referendum."
Southern Sudan will hold a referendum on January 9 to decide if it would declare independence or remain with the rest of Sudan.
The referendums are part of a 2005 peace accord which ended a 22-year-long civil war in which an estimated two million people died.
A second referendum is expected to be held in Abyei which would choose between the north and south.
© 2010 AFP