1 October 2010 - Government of Southern Sudan (GoSS) President Salva Kiir Mayardit has urged the people of Southern Sudan to allow free campaigning for the upcoming referenda in Southern Sudan and Abyei, scheduled for 9 January 2011.
Speaking in Juba during a welcoming ceremony following his return from a special UN Security Council meeting on Sudan in New York, he warned that if anyone intimidated or provoked opposing campaigners, they would face the full force of the law.
"If the people of Southern Sudan confirm unity, we shall still remain in one Sudan, and if it's secession, our immediate neighbour will be northern Sudan," President Kiir said.
[While the referendum in Southern Sudan will determine whether the region remains united with the north or secedes, voters in Abyei will choose whether to join the north or south.]
President Kiir refuted claims that Southern Sudan would declare unilateral independence without participating in the referendum vote as stipulated in the Comprehensive Peace Agreement (CPA).
"People of Southern Sudan will decide their future peacefully. We will carry out the referendum process for the people of Southern Sudan to define our own destiny," he said.
Adding that the international community is expecting a peaceful poll, President Kiir said that if all stakeholders worked diligently in the next three months, they would be able to peacefully resolve outstanding issues, including the oil and border agreements.
"Both of us (the Sudan People's Liberation Movement and the National Congress Party) must cooperate to move together and implement the remaining agreement peacefully. We will not engage in war but shall continue to talk in order to sort our differences," he said.
Referring to tensions in Abyei, President Kiir said the area would never be a source of conflict, given the ruling on its boundaries by the Permanent Court of Arbitration.
Members of the UN Security Council are expected in Sudan this week to monitor referenda plans and strengthen the relationship between the two implementing parties.