13 October 2010 - A three-day dialogue on Southern Sudan's upcoming referendum and citizens rights brought together some 200 civil society representatives and community leaders in the Western Bahr El-Ghazal State capital of Wau.
Discussions at the event, organized by the non-governmental organisation (NGO) Justice Africa, focused on historical, political and economic realities leading to the southern desire for self-determination, pros and cons of unity or secession and post-referendum arrangements relating to citizenship and minority rights.
As stipulated in the 2005 Comprehensive Peace Agreement that ended the country's two-decade-long civil war, Southern Sudan is scheduled to hold a referendum on 9 January 2011 to determine whether it will remain united with the north or secede.
Justice Africa Acting Director Kehsay Gebreyesus said his organization was working to foster dialogue and consensus among the Sudanese, irrespective of the referendum results.
"We have a plan to organize pre- and post-referendum dialogues among the Sudanese in order to promote peaceful coexistence in the future," he said, adding that the referendum result should not affect future relationships among Sudanese.
Sudan People's Liberation Movement Youth League member Isabella Kuot said she had acquired much knowledge about the upcoming referendum and related issues from the conference.
"I think what we need now is to work for a peaceful and transparent referendum at all levels," she said.
In closing remarks, State Governor Political Advisor Kamil Wani said that everyone should know the importance of a peaceful and transparent referendum.
"We have been waiting for a long time to exercise our right for self-determination and now it is a time to work collectively for a peaceful conduct of the process," Mr. Wani concluded
Justice Africa has organized similar workshops in Eastern Equatoria, Lakes, Western Equatoria and Warrap states, and has plans to host them in the remaining southern states.