By Nangayi Guyson – SIRTE, Libya (AFP) – The President Moamer Kadhafi of Libya warned ahead of a vote on possible independence for south Sudan that a partition of the country would be a “contagious disease” that could spread to other African states.
“We must recognise that this event is dangerous,” he said of the planned January 9 referendum on southern Sudan independence which could see Africa’s largest country split in two.
On Saturday, clashes erupted in Khartoum as opponents of Sudan’s potential breakup after the referendum protested during a visit to the capital by UN Security Council ambassadors.
The “referendum for both southern Sudan and the Abyei region in 2011 continues to be a source of concern, given the complexity of pre- and post-referendum issues which need to be resolved,” chairperson of the African Union Commission Jean Ping told the Sirte summit on Sunday.
The referendum is a central plank of an accord known as the 2005 Comprehensive Peace Agreement (CPA) that ended two decades of civil war in Sudan, a north-south conflict in which two million people died.
Arab League chief Amr Mussa voiced concerns at the summit about “the referendum’s impact on security and stability on a large region of Africa and the Middle East”.
He said the League was working with Khartoum to resolve outstanding issues over the referendum, and stressed the need for “good preparation”.
Mussa called for “a credible and transparent ballot that reflects the will of the people of south Sudan and the Abyei region”.
In a summit draft declaration seen by AFP, the Arab and African leaders stress the need to “respect Sudanese sovereignty, territorial integrity and independence”.
The draft “Sirte Declaration” also affirms their “complete rejection of any attempt to undermine its (Sudan’s) sovereignty, unity, security or stability”.
“The importance of completing negotiations on questions pertaining to issues in post-referendum south Sudan” is also underlined in the draft.
According to the document, the leaders also “reject resolutions by the International Criminal Court (ICC) against the Sudanese president”.
Bashir, the first sitting head of state to face arrest warrants issued by the ICC, denies masterminding war crimes and genocide in Sudan’s war-wracked western region of Darfur.
The gathering is also set to discuss establishing a strategic partnership between Arab and African states in areas such as energy, trade and food security.
This is only the second such summit ever held, the first one dating back to a 1977 meeting in Cairo.