News24

Egyptians delayed Sudan secession

2010-12-03 16:31

Cairo - Egyptian officials were lobbying last year for a four- to six-year delay in Sudan's secession referendum to give the south more time to become viable as a potential state, a newspaper quoted a leaked US diplomatic cable as saying.

The plebiscite was agreed in a 2005 peace deal that ended decades of civil war between the north and the oil-producing south and is due to take place on January 9, although preparations are falling behind schedule.

The United States has strongly supported the process, but an October 2009 US diplomatic cable quoted an Egyptian official as suggesting the poll be delayed for four to six years, until the "capacity for statehood in South Sudan can be developed", according to Egypt's al-Masry al-Youm paper.

"The result would be the creation of a non-viable state that could threaten Egypt's access to the Nile waters," the official was quoted as saying.

The documents were given to al-Masry al-Youm before being published on the WikiLeaks website. Egypt's Foreign Ministry was not immediately available for comment.