Sudan would recognise south's independence: Beshir
KHARTOUM — Sudan will recognise the south's independence if it chooses to break away from the rest of Africa's largest country in a January 2011 referendum, President Omar al-Beshir said.
"The (ruling) National Congress Party favours unity," Beshir said in a speech to mark the fifth anniversary of the end of Sudan's north-south civil war.
"But if the result of the referendum is separation, then we in the NCP will be the first to take note of this decision and to support it. We will be good neighbours," Sudan's president said.
The speech, delivered at the stadium in Yambio, capital of Western Equatoria state, was broadcast on national television.
The mostly Muslim north and largely Christian south signed a Comprehensive Peace Agreement on January 9, 2005 to end a 22-year civil war that was fuelled by religious, political and economic differences and cost two million lives.
The CPA provides for a general election, due in April, and a referendum on independence for the oil-rich south.
"Khartoum will be the first capital to recognise the new state and to support it," said the president, who is due to stand for re-election in April.
The Sudanese parliament ratified a key law in December setting up the planned 2011 referendum on southern independence after northern and southern leaders overcame a dispute that had threatened to derail the peace deal.
Parliament also passed a law for a referendum in the disputed oil-rich region of Abyei -- on the border between north and south Sudan -- to let residents decide if they want to remain part of the north or join the south.