Summary: 15 January 2011, Brussels - Statement by Catherine Ashton, European Union High Representative for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy and Vice President of the European Commission, on the conclusion of Southern Sudan's self-determination referendum (9-15 January 2011)
With the close of polling today, the first phase of the historic Southern Sudan Referendum has ended, actively supported by the European Union. Counting will start shortly and final results are expected in mid-February. The EU has deployed a large election observation mission to monitor the referendum process. The Chief Observer, Véronique de Keyser, Member of the European Parliament, will make her preliminary statement on 17 January.
Against this background, Catherine Ashton, made the following statement:
"I would like to express my great satisfaction that the Southern Sudan Referendum was held on time and conducted peacefully. The people of Southern Sudan turned out in large numbers to exercise, with patience and dignity, their right to vote on self-determination. This was a historic event and a major milestone in implementation of the Comprehensive Peace Agreement (CPA), of which the European Union is a witness.
I commend both Sudanese parties to the CPA for their leadership and for their pledges that the safety and security of all peoples in Sudan will be respected throughout this process. I also commend the Southern Sudan Referendum Commission and the South Sudan Referendum Bureau for their efforts to make this referendum happen despite numerous challenges. I welcome the commitment made by President Bashir that his Government will respect the outcome of the Referendum.
The EU has deployed a large election observation mission led by Véronique de Keyser to monitor the referendum process. I welcome the contribution made by domestic and international observers and the strong leadership shown by the United Nations Mission in Sudan.
I am deeply concerned about the recent reports of clashes in the Abyei area and deplore the loss of life there. I call upon the Sudanese parties to maintain calm and resolve this issue through peaceful dialogue. The EU is encouraged by the public commitments by President Bashir and First Vice President Salva Kiir to continue negotiations on outstanding CPA and post-referendum issues and to foster cooperation between North and South regardless of the outcome of the Referendum. The EU stands ready to assist the parties further in ways they would consider helpful to achieve lasting peace and stability, in cooperation with other international partners."