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Swiss laud Sudan’s “peaceful” referendum

Switzerland has praised the “relatively calm, peaceful and ordered” proceedings of Southern Sudan's referendum on independence.

Foreign Minister Micheline Calmy-Rey said the vote was an “important political step towards the creation of lasting peace”, in a statement issued on Monday.

Southern Sudan voted overwhelmingly to declare independence in final results of a referendum announced on Monday. A total of 98.83 per cent of voters from Sudan’s oil-producing south chose to secede from the north in last month’s vote.

Calmy-Rey noted that the referendum was critical in implementing the 2005 peace accord to which Switzerland and other countries had made significant contributions.

However she deplored the fact that violence had broken out on the sidelines of the referendum, causing deaths and injuries.

Switzerland has been supporting both north and south Sudan as a neutral partner in their moves towards creating lasting peace in Sudan, the ministry added. For the past several months it has been providing technical expertise about the division of riches and debts in the banking sector.

Three Swiss were also sent to form part of a European Union observer mission during the referendum.

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