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Qaddafi warns against 'contagion' of Sudanese partition.

SIRTE: Libyan leader Moammar Qaddafi warned on Sunday ahead of a vote on possible independence for south Sudan that a partition of the country would be a "contagious disease" that could spread to other African states.

Qaddafi was speaking at a one-day Arab-African summit that wrapped up its work by establishing a strategic partnership between Arab and African states in the areas of energy, environment, water resources, agriculture and food security.

Qaddafi told the opening of the summit in the Libyan coastal city of Sirte that "what is happening in Sudan could become a contagious disease that affects the whole of Africa.

"We must recognize that this event is dangerous," he said of the planned Jan. 9 referendum on southern Sudan independence which could see Africa's largest country split in two.

A simultaneous referendum is to be held in the disputed oil-rich Abyei region, straddling north and south Sudan, as to which portion of the country it wants to belong to should the country split.

"The partition of Sudan is likely to change the map of the country. But other (African countries) will change too," the Libyan leader told the gathering, which was attended by Sudan's President Omar Al-Bashir.

Qaddafi had called in March for Nigeria to be partitioned between the Christian and Muslim communities to solve its problem of sectarian violence.

He proposed that it should follow the model of Pakistan, which was born in 1947 after the Muslim minority of predominantly Hindu India founded their own homeland.

Most of Africa's borders are arbitrary, resulting from colonies carved out by European empire-builders that often divided tribal or linguistic groups between one or more territories. Any effort to change that could lead to a radical redrawing of the continent's maps.

In Sudan, vote preparations are way behind schedule and tensions remain high.

On Saturday, clashes erupted during a visit to the capital by UN Security Council ambassadors between separatists and opponents of Sudan's potential breakup.

Senegalese President Abdoulaye Wade proposed on Sunday that a delegation of five African and Arab heads of state travel to Sudan in a bid to defuse tensions there, Al-Bashir advisor Mustapha Othman Ismail said.

For his part, the chairman of the African Union Commission, Jean Ping, told the summit that the "referendum for both southern Sudan and the Abyei region in 2011 continues to be a source of concern, given the complexity of pre- and post-referendum issues which need to be resolved."

The referendum is a central plank of the 2005 Comprehensive Peace Agreement that ended two decades of civil war in Sudan, a north-south conflict in which two million people died.

Arab League chief Amr Mousa voiced concerns about "the referendum's impact on security and stability on a large region of Africa and the Middle East."

He said the League was working with Khartoum to resolve outstanding issues over the referendum, and stressed the need for "good preparation."

Mousa called for "a credible and transparent ballot that reflects the will of the people of south Sudan and the Abyei region."

The summit adopted a declaration in which the leaders stressed the need to "respect Sudanese sovereignty, territorial integrity and independence."

The "Sirt Declaration" also affirms their "complete rejection of any attempt to undermine (Sudan's) sovereignty, unity, security or stability."

"The importance of completing negotiations on questions pertaining to issues in post-referendum south Sudan" was also underlined.

The leaders also "reject resolutions by the International Criminal Court against the Sudanese president," the declaration said.

Al-Bashir, the first sitting head of state to face arrest warrants issued by the ICC, denies masterminding war crimes and genocide in Sudan's war-wracked western region of Darfur.

Speaking of the strategic partnership, Ping said the wealth of the Arab world could help lift Africa out of its "economic marginalization" through greater investment and trade.

Libyan leader Moammar Gadhafi, centre left, and Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak, during the opening of the second Afro Arab summit in Sirte, Libya, Sunday, Oct. 10. (AP Photo/Amr Nabil)

Daily NewsEgypt 2009

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Publication:Daily News Egypt (Egypt)
Geographic Code:60AFR
Date:Oct 11, 2010
Words:675
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