UNITED NATIONS (AP) — Kenya's president says he has received assurances from Sudan's President Omar al-Bashir and south Sudan's leader Salva Kiir that a crucial referendum on southern independence will take place on schedule in January.

President Mwai Kibaki told the U.N. General Assembly's annual ministerial meeting on Thursday that al-Bashir and Kiir also reaffirmed their commitment to resolve all outstanding issues and accept the outcome of the vote.

Preparations for the referendum are far behind, and the two sides have yet to agree on key issues including demarcation of the oil-rich north-south border.

A 2005 peace agreement that ended the 21-year north-south civil war called for a referendum on independence for southern Sudan.