See also:
» 17.01.2011 - South Sudan referendum "a success"
» 10.12.2010 - South Sudan: historic vote or new conflict?
» 16.11.2010 - UN "deeply concerned" about Sudan referendum
» 21.10.2010 - 1.5m Sudanese being moved from north to south
» 07.10.2010 - Sudan referendum timetable spells trouble
» 14.07.2010 - "Sudan unprepared for independence vote"
» 16.06.2010 - Sigh of relief over new Sudan unity govt
» 21.04.2010 - Sudan election results censored

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South Sudan | Sudan

It is official: South Sudan to secede

Girl waving South Sudan's flag as secession referendum results are announced

© Tim McKulka/UNMIS/afrol News
afrol News, 31 January
- The people of South Sudan have spoken. Over 99 percent of voters opted for secession, according to the first official, preliminary results. South Sudan will formally become independent on 9 July 2011.

Releasing preliminary official results today in Juba, the Southern Sudan Referendum Commission (SSRC) confirmed what observers had expected - that voters overwhelmingly endorsed the secession of Sudan's ten southern states from the rest of the country.

An impressive 99.57 percent of the 3.72 million ballots cast in South Sudan supported separation, according to Commission's spokesman Justice Chan Reec Madut. According to the results published by the Commission, the lowest vote in favour of secession was registered in the state of Bahr al-Ghazal, bordering the North, with a still impressive 95.5 percent in support.

Secession had garnered the same percentage of support among the 58,200 South Sudanese who voted overseas, while 57 percent of voters registered in the country's 15 northern states backed the separation option.

Salva Kiir Mayardit, who will be the first President of an independent South Sudan, participated at the Juba announcement yesterday. "Congratulations to all of you, we are very happy," President Kiir told the thousands who had gathered in central Juba.

"We still have a long way forward, and I would like you to be peaceful towards everybody and towards your brothers in the north," Mr Kiir told the spectators.

The announcement of the referendum results came 15 days after balloting ended. Confirmation of voting results triggered a loud outpouring of applause, laughter and ul

South Sudan President Salva Kiir listens to announcement of referendum results

© Tim McKulka/UNMIS/afrol News
ulating, with some members of the crowd waving towels and South Sudan flags to hail the outcome.

Referendum Commission Chairman Mohammed Ibrahim Khalil at the Juba event acknowledged the millions of voters who "spent hours and hours patiently, decently, courteously waiting in long queues in order to exercise their right of registration and, later, of polling."

Mr Khalil added that the successful implementation of this month's referendum should foster hope that northern and southern leaders can settle their unresolved disputes and agree on post-referendum arrangements in the remaining six months before South Sudan formally becomes independent on 9 July this year.

When President Kiir finished his address, hundreds of South Sudanese converged on the dirt field opposite the speakers' dais to chant "Independence, oh yes!" and dance to the rhythms of "Motherland Sudan", "I love Juba, I'm from Juba and Juba is my Nation" and other popular nation-building songs.

According to the UN Mission in Sudan (UNMIS), "the complete preliminary results of the seven-day voting will be announced again in Khartoum on 2 February. If no legal objections are filed against those figures, the outcome will be ratified as final on 7 February. If legal proceedings are initiated, the SSRC is required by law to issue a final official result no later than 14 February."

Sudan's President Omar al-Bashir so far has not comm

Spectators celebrating the positive outcome of South Sudan's secession vote

© Tim McKulka/UNMIS/afrol News
ented on the results, but last week pledged to support the new state of South Sudan after its probable independence. His statement came after early results had indicated pro-secession votes would reach around 99 percent.

President al-Bashir acknowledged that "secession has become a reality," as "99 percent of southerners chose separation." The North would however "not be sad," he added, saying "we will go to the south and celebrate with them."

Despite the good cooperation currently experienced between Presidents al-Bashir and Kiir - the two this weekend jointly African Union summit in Addis Ababa - serious conflict issues remain between the North and the South. Most pressing conflicts include the future of Abeyei state, which yet has to hold a referendum, and the key to sharing oil revenues.

Note: Based on this historic vote of the South Sudanese people, afrol News today "officially recognised" South Sudan as a new African state. Country and news pages for South Sudan are now online, which you may want to bookmark. Starting now, you can also receive South Sudan news alerts (free, see below).

South Sudan country page:

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Get South Sudan news alerts: See link below.

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