Sudan vote opponents spread confusion: poll chief
KHARTOUM/ JUBA: Opponents of a referendum on independence for south Sudan are threatening lawsuits and spreading confusion to try to disrupt the vote, the chief official running the plebiscite said on Saturday.
The accusation came at a time of heightened tension around the poll, due next month. A southern official for the first time said her party would openly campaign for secession, bringing a warning from the north's ruling party that it might refuse to recognize the result.
Mohammed Ibrahim Khalil, the head of the referendum's organizing commission, told Reuters he had been flooded with spurious complaints and threats of lawsuits, all apparently from the same group.
Southerners are expected to vote for independence in the referendum, scheduled to start on January 9 and last a week.
Southern leaders have accused the north's ruling National Congress Party (NCP) of trying to find ways to disrupt the vote to keep control of the region's oil reserves.
The referendum was promised in a 2005 peace deal that ended a north-south civil war. Both sides have accused each other of building up troops close to their border in recent months.
"We have received complaints in identical terms from different parties very clearly instigated by one main source, all of them groundless ... The whole idea is to create confusion and give the idea that something serious is going wrong," Khalil, a northerner, said. He declined to say who he thought was behind the campaign of disruption.
State-linked media reported earlier that a group called the Higher Council for Peace and Unity had filed a "constitutional case" against the commission and the south's dominant Sudan People's Liberation Movement (SPLM), saying they had violated the law governing the vote.
Senior SPLM member Yasir Arman dismissed the new case saying it was "baseless and politically motivated by the NCP."
Separately, in the southern capital Juba, senior SPLM member Anne Itto said the party would campaign for southerners to vote for independence, abandoning a legal fiction that the movement was neutral. -Ap
CARACAS: Venezuela's President Hugo Chavez (L) and United Arab Emirates' Foreign Minister Sheikh Abdullah Bin Zayed Al Nahyan (R) talk during a meeting at Miraflores Palace in December 11, 2010. -Reuters