Voter registration begins in Southern Sudan, SG, Rice & Clinton issue statements on Aung San Suu Kyi’s release and more from UN Direct

Sudan: Today was the first day of voter registration for the referendum in Southern Sudan (expected to run through December 1), and the SG’s Panel on the Referenda visited voter registration centers. After going to centers on the outskirts of the Sudanese capital, President Benjamin Mkapa, the chairperson of the Panel, explained that the Panel’s aim was to gauge how voter registration was going. He stated that the number of people who have registered so far is small, but he is hopeful that these numbers will increase. In addition, Mkapa said that the panel will keep monitoring the registration period and has plans to travel around Sudan – including Abyei – to monitor the registration sites and speak with stakeholders.

Myanmar: On Saturday, the SG sent his best wishes to Myanmar’s opposition leader Aung San Suu Kyi, who was just released from detention, while also expressing his deep regret that she wasn’t able to participate in the recent elections.  In his statement, he also urged the Myanmar authorities to release all remaining political prisoners and expressed the UN’s continued support of democratic and peaceful efforts by the country’s government and people.  Ambassador Rice and Secretary Clinton also issued statements, both welcoming the long overdue release and continuing to call for the release of the over 2,100 political prisoners.

Darfur: In a press conference over the weekend in Khartoum, Ibraham Gambari, the Joint Special Representative of UNAMID, warned that a settlement requires a comprehensive agreement by all Darfuris.  He has met with all stakeholders to convince them to join the peace process.  In addition, Gambari noted the renewed violence between the Government and the armed movements, namely the Justice and Equality Movement (JEM) and the Sudan Liberation Army-Abdul Wahid (SLA-AW), and called all parties to stop. Gambari also stressed the need for UNAMID to work with and provide humanitarian assistance to IDPs and others who are affected by the war.

Security Council: This morning, the Security Council held a debate about its three counter-terrorism committees (namely, 1267, 1373 and 1540); a full summary will be available tomorrow.  Tomorrow, the Council will hold a ministerial debate on Sudan.