North to take on all Sudan debt, second day voting underway

Bashir offered to take on all of the country's debt if the south decides to secede in a referendum.

North to take on all Sudan debt, second day voting underway

Sudan's President Omar Hassan al-Bashir offered to take on all of the country's crippling debt if the south decides to secede in a referendum, former U.S. President Jimmy Carter told CNN on Monday.

"I spoke with President al-Bashir. He said the entire debt should be assigned to north Sudan and not to the southern part ...," Carter said in an interview with the television channel.

"So, in a way, southern Sudan is starting with a clean sheet on debt."

Sudan has previously called for its nearly $38 billion in debt to be forgiven to strengthen prospects for peace. Most of that debt is in arrears, according to the International Monetary Fund.

Carter's comments were broadcast on the second day of voting in the week-long referendum on the fate of the country's oil- producing south.

The fate of the country's debt was one of a list of unresolved issues being discussed by northern and southern leaders, including the position of the north/south border and the sharing out of oil revenues.

U.S. President Barack Obama has promised to help Sudan with its debt burden, along with other incentives, as long as it delivers a peaceful referendum and resolves its separate Darfur conflict.

Second day

Observers said thousands of voters queued up for a second day of voting that continued peacefully across other areas of the south. The final results are expected by Feb. 15, with preliminary results some two weeks earlier.

"Yesterday I tried my best but it was too much for me. Queues were too long. People were too emotional. Everyone wants to be first to decide his destiny," said Salah Mohamed, waiting outside a booth on the outskirts of the southern capital Juba.

"Today I could vote but still as you can see the crowds are still there ... I think the commission might need to extend the voting days."

Residents of the central Abyei region were promised their own referendum on whether to join the north or the south but leaders could not agree on how to run the poll and the vote did not take place, as planned on Jan. 9.

About 1,400 international observers are deployed across Sudan to see firsthand that the referendum passes off without any incident.

Prominent among foreign poll observers are Carter, the former US president, and Kofi Annan, the former UN secretary-general.

Visiting a polling station at the St Bakitha Kator Primary School in Juba, both Carter and Annan said they were impressed with conduct of the poll and the enthusiasm shown by the people.

"People have had enough of war. They want to avoid conflict," Annan said.


Agencies

Last Mod: 10 Ocak 2011, 16:23
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