The United States expressed serious concern regarding the referendum on the political future of Darfur, scheduled to be held from Monday to Wednesday, as it “undermines” the current peace process. Voting under current rules and conditions cannot be considered a “credible expression of the will of the people of Darfur”.
In a press statement on Saturday, USA State Department spokesman Mark Toner said that lasting peace in Sudan “will only be attained through a political process that addresses the underlying causes” of the Darfur conflict”.
A process that “secures a lasting cessation of hostilities, and creates the space for meaningful participation of Darfuri groups and all Sudanese in an inclusive and genuine national dialogue.
“Insecurity in Darfur and inadequate registration of Darfuris residing in internally displaced persons (IDPs) camps prohibit sufficient participation.”
“The announced Darfur Referendum will contradict these key objectives and the broader goal of peace and stability in Darfur,” Toner said.
“Furthermore, the Darfur Referendum Commission’s recent announcement that Darfurians residing outside of Darfur will be ineligible to vote disenfranchises millions of Darfurians, refugees, and IDPs.
The State Department concluded its statement that the USA will continue to support the people of Sudan who wish to advance peaceful governance and inclusive participatory politics for long-term stability in Sudan.
The coming three days, people currently residing in Darfur will be able to determine whether the region will continue as five states or return to one administrative unit. Critics have said that the current five-state system gives Khartoum greater control over the region.
On Friday, the governors of the states of Darfur have announced that their their governments are ready for the administrative referendum which will begin on Monday, and called on the citizens of Darfur to exercise their right to vote.
The Darfur Referendum Commission earlier said that more than 3,5 out of 4.5 million people have registered for the referendum. Ten election experts from the African Union are planned to monitor the voting process, along with monitors from the Arab League and Sudanese observers.
Calls for boycott
The displaced people, native administration leaders, activists and civil society forces have called for the population of Darfur to resist and boycott the referendum. Political opposition parties such as the National Umma Party are speaking out against the voting.
The referendum is stipulated in the Doha Document for Peace in Darfur (DDPD) that was signed in July 2011 by the Sudanese government and the Liberation and Justice Movement, a coalition of 19 breakaway factions of the Darfur rebel movements formed the year before.