Sudan's Bashir says to respect south's vote

Bashir said he would come and join in the celebrations after the vote.

Sudan's Bashir says to respect south's vote

Sudanese President Omar Hassan al-Bashir made a trip to the southern capital Juba on Tuesday before a Jan. 9 vote on secession, offering a hand of peace to the southerners.

There have been fears that the referendum could lead to a return to war, but Bashir said he would join in the south's independence celebrations.

Nearly four million southerners have registered to take part in the vote.

"The preferred choice for us is unity but in the end we will respect the choice of the southern citizens," Bashir said in a speech to southern officials. "One would be sad that Sudan has split but also pleased because we witnessed peace."

Bashir appeared visibly resigned in contrast to his usual upbeat rhetoric, in a visit seen as a farewell to the south and to the title of Africa's largest country by area.

Accepting that the result is likely to be secession, Bashir said he would come and join in the celebrations after the vote.

"Even after the southern state is born we are ready in the Khartoum government to offer any technical or logistical support and training or advice -- we are ready to help."

In Juba, the president repeated his pro-unity stance, but southern leaders praised him and were clearly grateful that he had sought to reduce tensions around the vote.


Agencies

Last Mod: 05 Ocak 2011, 09:52
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