Monday, 31 January 2011

Juba celebrates as first full referendum results are released

Salva Kiir at the celebrations in Juba
The party has started in south Sudan as the first official announcement of the independence referendum results was made on Sunday 30th January and confirmed what most had suspected: the voters had overwhelmingly endorsed secession.

Priminary results had already secured the vote for secession, but full results show the scale of the victory; according to the Southern Sudan Referendum Commission (SSRC), 99.57 per cent of voters in the ten states of south Sudan opted to leave the north.

In the north, 57.65 per cent of voters chose separation, with 42 per cent voting for unity. There was a relatively low turnout in the north, with only 69,597 of the 116,857 registered voting.

Southern Sudanese voters in Uganda, Kenya, Ethiopia, Egypt, Australia, Canada, the US and the UK mirrored the vote in the south, with 98.55 per cent choosing separation.

These numbers together produce a figure of 98.83 per cent voting for separation, with over 3.8 million votes for separation compared with only 44,888 for unity.

Juba Celebrations

Hundreds of officials and diplomats gathered in Juba at the grave of rebel leader John Garang for the first official announcement of the results.

John Garang was the main Southern leader during the civil war, and he oversaw the Comprehensive Peace Agreement (CPA) in 2005, which brought the civil war to an end and set the country on the path towards the referendum just witnessed. He died in a plane clash not long after signing the CPA.

South Sudan leader Salva Kiir presided over the events held at the John Garang mausoleum. Reacting to the preliminary figures announced, Kiir remarked “the inhumane treatment southerners were subjected to by the northern regime during the long years of war has clearly manifested itself in this overwhelming vote for separation.”

He extended his gratitude to the SSRC for their tireless work under 'difficult circumstances' to deliver the referendum and results on schedule. He also thanked the people of southern Sudan for keeping their promise to vote for the independence of their own country.

"No one has forced anybody to vote but today we are witnessing a historic moment that has never happened since the creation of South Sudan, with the results today, I congratulate all of you sons and daughters of this region," he said.

He emphasised that an independent south would maintain cordial relations with the north, as well as with its neighbours like Uganda and Kenya.

Kiir said attention should now be focused on the Abyei referendum, popular consultations in Southern Kordofan and Blue Nile regions, as well as reolving the conflict in Darfur.

The announcement was met with thousands of southern Sudanese taking to the streets in Juba, the capital of the South, to cheer and dance. The jubilant mood is likely to continue, although Kiir warned people not to remove Sudanese national flags until 9th July, when the flag will be officially lowered in the presence of Sudanese President Omar Al-Bashir. Al-Bashir would then ceremoniously take the flag back to Khartoum.

The new country has already choosen its flag and its anthem, but its official name has not yet been determined.

Sources: BBC News, Sudan Tribune

For more information on Sudan, see the Menas Borders website, here.

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