KHARTOUM — Sudan will not return to war regardless of the outcome of a January referendum on the possible independence of the country's south, ministers from the two regions said on Thursday.
"We agree war is not an option for us, and we are prepared to build trust between us to achieve a secure and stable situation, regardless of the outcome of the referendum," Sudanese Defence Minister Abdel Rahim Mohammed Hussein told a news conference in Khartoum.
Nhial Deng Nhial, the southern minister in charge of the Sudan People?s Liberation Army (SPLA) in the southern region, agreed.
"During our dialogue, yesterday and today, we committed ourselves to ensuring that the SPLA (former southern rebel army) and SAF (Sudan Armed Forces of the north) don't go to war again," he told the same news conference.
Sudan, Africa's biggest nation, is scheduled to stage two ballots on January 9: one on the independence of southern Sudan and the other on whether the oil-rich region of Abyei should link up with the north or south.
The two votes are the centrepiece of the 2005 Comprehensive Peace Agreement between Khartoum and Juba that ended the continent's longest-running civil war and gave former southern rebels a share in government.
But many Western nations fear the possibility of renewed conflict as the referendum commission struggles to organise the ballots.
Last month, Sudanese President Omar al-Bashir and southern leader Salva Kiir said in a joint statement that north and south Sudan would have "good relations" regardless of the outcome of the independence referendum.
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