Sudan: Referendum law brought before parliament, negotiations before vote

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The parliamentary assembly to debate the contested referendum law for the independence of South Sudan, this evening, has been postponed. The law had already been approved last week in the absence of opposition MP's and it has now been postponed for a vote in the House for another vote. The local press reports that the majority National Congress party (NCP) has asked for the postponement in order to "have more time to analyze the text and consult each other". The 'Sudan Tribune' says that the postponement is actually prompted by the continuing negotiations between the NCP and the Sudanese Popular Liberation Movement (SPLM) concerning the quorum, which was established at 60% of registered voters, needed to keep the vote valid. NCP representatives have said that they are working to "maintain the solidity of the country's unity" countering suggestions that the southern regions, rich in oil and mining resources, might secede. The president of the semi-autonomous South Sudanese region and Sudanese vice-president, Salva Kiir Mayardit, said that he would not recognize the referendum law - established by the 2005 peace accords, which ended over 20 years of civil war between the North and South - if the legislation (canceled at the last minute from the text approved in the House) which establishes that southern citizens who reside in the North might vote only if they register and vote in the regions where they were born.[AB]