10 February 2011
President Jacob Zuma has praised Sudan for delivering a peaceful and credible referendum, saying South Africa stood ready to welcome the new state of South Sudan to the community of African nations in July.
In a statement on Wednesday, Zuma said the acceptance of the results by all the parties involved was an expression of willingness to support and conclude all the necessary procedures to ensure the establishment of an independent, viable state of South Sudan.
Sudanese President Omar al-Bashir has formally accepted the secession results.
“The acceptance of the results by President Omar Al-Bashir demonstrates the strong political will for peace that exists among the leadership in the Sudan and sets the foundation for a harmonious co-existence between the people of North and South Sudan,” Zuma said.
After a six-year transitional period following two decades of brutal civil war, close to four million southern Sudanese went to the polls from 9 to 15 January to cast their vote for unity or secession.
With 98.83 percent of voters choosing independence, South Sudan will officially be able to declare independence on 9 July.
The referendum marked the final phase of the 2005 Comprehensive Peace Agreement, which concluded 20 years of war between the northern-based government in Khartoum and the Sudan People’s Liberation Movement/Army in the south – a war that reportedly claimed the lives of some two million people and left millions more displaced.
Zuma said South Africa would continue to strengthen its relations with the people of North Sudan and South Sudan.
He said the projects that South Africa had launched in Sudan since the signing of the peace agreement in 2005 would continue and be enhanced where necessary to support ongoing peace and good neighbourliness between North Sudan and South Sudan.
South Africa was encouraged by the commitments of the parties to the agreement to speedily deal with the outstanding post-referendum issues such as the referendum for Abyei, border demarcation, natural resources and economic issues, citizenship, and security.
Zuma said South Africa remained fully supportive of the African Union High Level Implementation Panel, led by former president Thabo Mbeki, in facilitating negotiations between the parties on post-referendum issues