The United States continues to urge the parties to fully implement the 2005 Comprehensive Peace Agreement. The January 9, 2011 referendum on self-determination for Southern Sudan is a cornerstone of the CPA. The U.S. supports the CPA parties as they make preparations to conduct a peaceful referendum that reflects the will of the Sudanese people on January 9.
Assistant Secretary of State for Public Affairs P.J. Crowley spoke about the implications of the referendum with Major General (Ret.) Scott Gration, the U.S. Special Envoy to Sudan. Special Envoy Gration said, "This is a really big deal because this vote gives the Southern Sudanese the opportunity to decide whether they want to be united as they have been since 1956, or to choose independence."
The Special Envoy continued, "...I'm very pleased that, in fact, we are poised, and there really is no technical reason why we can't have this referendum. Sure, there's things that might come up at the end, but right now we're five days away, and it looks to me like this will come off and start on the 9th. And it will continue for seven days, and then there will be a process where the votes are counted, we make sure that we have the 60 percent turnout, and then we'll get an official result sometime after that, something maybe in the last week in January, the first week of February, at which time we'll know what the Southern Sudanese have decided.
"What we're looking for is not the outcome, though, P.J. We're looking to make sure that there's a process where the people have an opportunity to express their free will, a process that happens on time, that happens peacefully, and that is transparent. Because in the end, the international community, along with the people of the North and the South, have to say 'Yes, this really is the will of the people and we'll accept the results'."
You can watch the video of Assistant Secretary Crowley's conversation with Special Envoy Gration in the player above or read the transcript here. For the latest status of referendum preparations, please visit www.state.gov.