Nearly 100 percent in southern Sudan vote for secession
JUBA, Sudan — Southern Sudan’s referendum commission said yesterday that more than 99 percent of voters in the south opted to secede from the country’s north in a vote held earlier this month.
The announcement drew cheers from a crowd of thousands that gathered in Juba, the dusty capital of what may become the world’s newest country.
The weeklong vote, held in early January and widely praised for being peaceful and for meeting international standards, was a condition of a 2005 peace agreement that ended a north-south civil war that lasted two decades and killed 2 million people.
The head of the commission’s southern bureau, Justice Chan Reec Madut, said that voter turnout in the 10 states in the south was also 99 percent. He said only some 16,000 voters in the south voted to remain united with northern Sudan, while 3.7 million voted to separate.
Among southerners living in the north, 58 percent chose secession, said Mohamed Ibrahim Khalil, chairman of the referendum commission. He said some 60 percent of eligible voters participated.
Southern Sudanese voters in eight foreign countries overwhelmingly supported secession, he said. In the United States, Khalil said, more than 99 percent of the 8,500 southerners who cast votes chose secession.
If the process stays on track, southern Sudan will become the world’s newest country in July. Border demarcation, oil rights and the status of the contested region of Abyei still have to be negotiated.