By Nangayi Guyson – Southern Sudan who voted overwhelmingly with nearly 99% for independence have finally formed a new African nation, election officials confirmed on Monday.
Southern Sudan Referendum Commission announced in Khartoum that 98.83% of the voters had backed independence confirming the spilt of Africa’s biggest country. Referendum Commission head Mohamed Ibrahim Khalil said.”Those who voted for unity were 44,888, that is, 1.17%. Those who voted for separation were 3,792,518, that is, 98.83%,”
Earlier, Sudanese President Omar Al-Bashir again said he would accept the outcome of the vote. We accept and welcome these results because they represent the will of the southern people,” Mr Bashir said on state TV.
The poll was agreed as part of a 2005 peace agreement ending more than two decades of civil war between the south and north Sudan. However, South Sudan’s leader Salva Kiir pledged co-operation with Khartoum in the future, saying there were “many things that connect the north and the south”.
“The (freedom) of the south is not the end of the road, because we cannot be enemies. We must build strong relations,” said Mr Kiir, who is also Sudan’s Vice-President.
The US has said it will remove Sudan from a list of countries it accuses of sponsoring terrorism if the referendum goes well. President Barack Obama congratulated the people of Southern Sudan for “a successful and inspiring” referendum, saying the US intended to formally recognise Southern Sudan in July. British Prime Minister David Cameron welcomed the announcement of the poll’s result, saying both “North and South now need to work together to implement the remaining provisions” of the 2005 peace deal.
A European Union representative in Sudan said the bloc “looks forward to further developing a close and long- term partnership with Southern Sudan”. UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon urged the international community “to assist all Sudanese towards greater stability and development” and offered the UN’s help to both sides, the AFP news agency reports.
Although the vote was peaceful, tension remains high in parts of the oil-rich border region. At least 50 people were killed over the weekend in fighting between soldiers in south Sudan’s Upper Nile state.
In the last half century southerners have fought two devastating civil wars with Khartoum, in which more than two million people are estimated to have died. The south sees itself as different in cultural, religious and ethnic terms from the north, and believes it has suffered years of discrimination.