On October 15, the Honourable Lawrence Cannon, Minister of Foreign Affairs, issued the following statement urging all parties to the 2005 Comprehensive Peace Agreement (CPA) in Sudan to focus their efforts on referendum preparations and post-referendum arrangements and to engage in constructive dialogue:
“It is imperative that the parties to the 2005 Comprehensive Peace Agreement avoid rhetoric on the upcoming referenda that undermines their credibility and the preparations for and negotiations on post-referendum arrangements.”
The Jan. 9 referendum will determine if South Sudan will become an independent country. If the vote does not take place as scheduled and if it is not carried out in a free and fair manner, the potential for renewed violence is real.
Today, we ask you to call 1-800-Genocide and ask the Canadian government to continue to make Sudan a priority. With the referendum only 81 days away, this is an important time for Canada to demonstrate leadership on the international stage.
Stand is pleased that the government is monitoring the situation in Sudan closely and is not afraid to speak out publicly. As the vote approaches however, there is still more that Canada can do.
First, Canada should send its own contingent of election observers to monitor the referendum. When the Government of Southern Sudan Mission was approached by Stand, Joseph Malok, the Principal Liaison Officer indicated that South Sudan has requested Canada send its own monitors. There has been no public announcement by the government of Canada whether they will meet this request.
Second, Canada should financially support the training of domestic observers. Training local citizens in the electoral process will not only build future capacity in the region but from a financial and logistical point of view it is more effective. According to a Carter Center official, it only takes 1 week and minimal funds to train an individual.
Lastly, the Canadian government needs to start planning for what may happen after the critical vote. Canada needs to start scenario mapping and engaging both the South and North governments on how they plan to carry out relations post-referendum. There are still many issues that have not been agreed upon between the two governments and Canada needs to do all it can to bridge these divides.
Call 1-800-Genocide and leave a message with the Prime Minister, Foreign Minister or Leader of the Opposition. To make an even more local impact call your own MP. Tell them that you are concerned about what could happen in Sudan and implore them to commit Canada to one of the three above stated actions. There is still much Canada can do and we must act now.
Lukas Kujawa, Policy Director
Scott Fenwick, Advocacy Director
Lisa Pires, Communications Director