Dutch want more observers in Sudan poll

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The Netherlands has called on the European Union to send more observers to Southern Sudan to monitor the referendum on independence to enable the south to break away from the Arab-dominated north.

Dutch Foreign Minister Uri Rosenthal appealed to his European counterparts to increase the number of observers during a Foreign Affairs Council meeting in Brussels on Monday. Southern Sudan has requested that the EU send 60 delegates to observe the January 2011 poll, but Mr Rosenthal says that is not enough. While there will also be an international team present to ensure the referendum is fair, there are more than 3,000 polling stations spread over a vast area, Mr Rosenthal pointed out.

EU foreign policy and security chief Catherine Ashton has said she will seriously consider Mr Rosenthal´s request, the Dutch foreign minister said. There are some Dutch observers on the present EU team. Dutch MPs support an independent Southern Sudan amid growing international momentum for the referendum to be held on time. There are real fears any delay in the 9 January vote or a refusal by Khartoum to accept secession could mean a return to civil war in Sudan.  

© Radio Netherlands Worldwide

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