24 January 2011
The South African government has welcomed the smooth completion of the referendum in south Sudan, in which, according to the primary results, nearly 99% of southern Sudanese people voted for the region’s separation from the north.
The week before last, the people of southern Sudan concluded their historic week-long referendum, in which they voted on whether to remain part of a united Sudan or form a new independent state.
Observers believe that the referendum will lead to the secession of the south from northern Sudan, giving birth to Africa’s 54th state.
Nearly 99% vote for separation
On Sunday, George Makier, spokesman for the South Sudan Referendum Commission (SSRC), said that “98.8 percent have voted for separation after sorting of about 98.8 percent of the ballots in the south and 100 percent of the ballots in the north and outside Sudan.
“There is a little remaining percentage in south Sudan and we are currently at the phase of entering data of some polling stations in the south; and we believe the process will not take long,” Makier added.
He said the primary results for the referendum would be announced on 30 January, while the overall primary results would be announced on 2 February and the final result on 7 February or, if there were legal challenges, on 14 February.
South Africa’s Department of International Relations and Cooperation has commended the people of Sudan for exercising their right to cast their votes and to decide their own future.
It also commended both President Al-Bashir and First Vice-President Salva Kiir on the personal leadership and courage they had shown in facilitating a peaceful environment for citizens to participate freely and without fear in casting their ballots.
‘Positive sign for region, continent’
“The steps taken in the Sudan to ensure the peaceful conduct of the referendum are not only a positive sign of further developments in the Sudan, but for the Horn of Africa region and the entire African continent,” department spokesperson Clayson Monyela said in a statement last week.
Monyela stressed the utmost importance of continued implementation of the Comprehensive Peaceful Agreement (CPA) for Sudan, and urged the parties to reach agreement quickly on critical issues, including border demarcation, security arrangements, citizenship, debts, assets, currency and natural resource arrangements.
He said South Africa was in full support of the African Union’s facilitation of negotiations around the post-referendum issues in Sudan.
South Africa had sent a team of 35 people, including members of Parliament and civil society, to assist in ensuring a conducive environment for a credible, free and fair referendum.
The country’s support was based on its role as chair of the African Union committee on post-conflict reconstruction and development in Sudan.