Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon held talks today with a top Sudanese official as part of his ongoing efforts to try to ensure that two key referenda on self-determination in the African country are staged peacefully and on schedule next January.
Mr. Ban had a cordial and candid exchange with Sudanese Vice-President Ali Osman Mohamed Taha during their meeting today on the margins of the General Assembly at United Nations Headquarters in New York, according to information released by Mr. Ban`s spokesperson.
The two officials focused their discussions on the key challenges facing Sudan as it implements the Comprehensive Peace Agreement (CPA), the 2005 pact that ended the long-running civil war between north and south.
On 9 January the inhabitants of southern Sudan will vote on whether to secede from the rest of the country, while on the same day the residents of the central area of Abyei will vote on whether to be part of the north or the south.
Mr. Ban and Mr. Taha agreed on the need for a fair and credible poll, to be held on the due date and free from intimidation and violence.
Yesterday the two men were among numerous high-level figures who took part in an international meeting at UN Headquarters on the situation in Sudan.
Participants issued a communiquÃ© after the meeting in which they committed to supporting the Sudanese to achieve sustainable peace " in the post-referenda period " and renewed the commitments of the CPA signatories to quickly resolving key post-referenda arrangements, such as border management, security, citizenship, migration issues and debt.
In their talks today Mr. Ban and Mr. Taha also discussed the ongoing conflict in the western Sudanese region of Darfur, and the prospect of the Doha talks yielding a lasting peace agreement.
Darfur has been beset by conflict and humanitarian suffering since 2003, when rebels began fighting Government forces and allied Janjaweed militiamen. An estimated 300,000 people have been killed since then and another 2.7 million people displaced from their homes.