October 18, 2010 / 5:42 PM / in 10 years

South Sudanese agree on post-secession elections, census

A supporter of south Sudan's President Salva Kiir shouts during a rally in Juba, south Sudan April 9, 2010. Sudan's first multi-party elections in 24 years are on track to start on Sunday. REUTERS/Goran Tomasevic

KHARTOUM (Reuters) - More than 20 southern Sudanese political parties have agreed to hold a fresh census, new elections and rewrite the constitution if the south secedes as expected in less than three months.

The five-day conference in the southern capital Juba also agreed a broad-based, post-secession interim government would be headed by South Sudan President Salva Kiir until new elections.

“The transitional government shall be charged...with the duty to conduct (a) population census and general elections for a constituent assembly which shall promulgate the permanent constitution,” according to the conference’s final communique sent to Reuters on Monday.

The conference, attended by political parties, civil society and religious groups, specified a constitutional review commission would decide the length of the interim period before new elections if southerners voted for secession in a January 9 referendum.

If unity was the result of the vote, the communique said, the south would ensure the region maintains representation in the national government.

The conference included southern opposition politicians in an effort to preserve the unity of the semi-autonomous region. Kiir had previously granted an amnesty offered to militia leaders who had been fighting the southern government over alleged fraud in April elections.

Some analysts have said southern ethnic tensions could erupt into clashes if secession goes ahead as the loss of a common enemy in the northern government would reveal their divisions.

During the north-south civil war, southern ethnic tensions split the rebellion, with intra-southern violence claiming tens of thousands of lives.

The conference also agreed that the southern referendum on independence should take place as scheduled on January 9, 2011 and that both options — unity and independence — be given equal air time on state and private media throughout Sudan.

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