09/15/10 | Reuters
KHARTOUM - A package of incentives offered by Washington to ensure the smooth holding of a referendum on whether south Sudan should secede from the north amounts to interference in Sudan's affairs, a ruling party official said Wednesday.
The U.S. State Department Tuesday offered incentives including restoring full diplomatic relations and allowing some non-oil trade and investment if Sudan held the January 9, 2011 referendums on south Sudan and the disputed Abyei region on time and agreed principles on post-referendum issues such as wealth sharing and the border between north and south.
The package also holds out the threat of additional sanctions against Sudan if progress is not made.
\"Really this is threatening and giving a warning to the Sudanese government without any reason,\" Rabie Abdelati, a Senior National Congress Party official, told Reuters.
\"If somebody is saying they will do what's agreed upon there's no need to say to him I am warning you.\"
He said the NCP was committed to holding the referendums on time so threats were not necessary.
\"This shows intervention in the domestic affairs of a country,\" Abdelati said.
Abdelati said Khartoum was confused by Washington's policy on Sudan, saying it heard conflicting voices from the administration.
U.S. Sudan envoy Scott Gration is often criticised by Sudan activists in the United States for being too soft on Khartoum, a policy they say has yielded no tangible results with disputed and flawed April elections and little progress towards democratic transformation.
\"We feel that some institutions in the USA don't have the same view and the same trend towards Sudan,\" Abdelati said. \"That is why up to now for us the stance of the U.S. administration is not clear.\"
He said U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton showed a tougher line than others including Gration.
\"This shows a conflict in the centre of decision making in the USA especially about Sudan -- we don't receive one message with one colour,\" said Abdelati.
Preparations for the simultaneous referendums on south Sudan, which most analysts expect to result in secession, and the oil-producing Abyei region on whether to join the south or north, have been delayed by years of bickering between north and south over implementing the 2005 accord which ended the country's long-running civil war.
The referendums are the climax of the deal which was supposed to share wealth and power and transform Sudan into a democracy.