30 January 2011 – Releasing preliminary official results today in Juba, the Southern Sudan Referendum Commission (SSRC) indicated that voters had overwhelmingly endorsed the secession of Sudan’s 10 southern states from the rest of the country.
Over 99 per cent of the 3.72 million ballots cast in Southern Sudan supported separation, according to SSRC deputy chairperson Justice Chan Reec Madut. Secession garnered the same percentage of support among the 58,200 Southern Sudanese who voted overseas, while 57 per cent of voters registered in the country’s 15 northern states backed the separation option.
“Congratulations to all of you, we are very happy,” said Government of Southern Sudan (GoSS) President Salva Kiir Mayardit as he addressed a throng of thousands who gathered under a baking sun at the John Garang Mausoleum in Juba on Sunday.
“We still have a long way forward, and I would like you to be peaceful towards everybody and towards your brothers in the north,” Mr. Kiir said.
The announcement of the referendum results came 15 days after balloting ended. Confirmation of voting results triggered a loud outpouring of applause, laughter and ululating, with some members of the crowd waving towels and Southern Sudan flags to hail the outcome.
“The Southern Sudan referendum could not have taken place on time without the support of the international community,” said Mr. Madut, who thanked a long list of foreign countries, governments and officials, including UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon, former Tanzanian President Benjamin Mkapa of the Secretary-General’s referenda monitoring panel, and Special Representative of the UN Secretary-General for Sudan Haile Menkerios.
SSRC Chairperson Mohammed Ibrahim Khalil acknowledged the millions of voters who “spent hours and hours patiently, decently, courteously waiting in long queues in order to exercise their right of registration and, later, of polling.”
He also reminded his Southern Sudanese audience of their geographic and historical links to the residents of North Sudan.
“These results lead to a change of situation that is the emergence of two states instead of one state,” said Mr. Khalil. “(But) these indissoluble bonds will not disappear, (they) will transcend the petty personal prejudices, transient winds and political aberrations.”
He said the successful implementation of this month’s referendum should foster hope that northern and southern leaders can settle their unresolved disputes and agree on post-referendum arrangements in the remaining six months before Southern Sudan formally becomes independent on 9 July 2011.
When GoSS President Kiir finished his address, hundreds of Southern Sudanese converged on the dirt field opposite the speakers’ dais to chant “Independence, Oh Yes!” and dance to the rhythms of “Motherland Sudan”, “I Love Juba, I’m From Juba and Juba Is My Nation” and other songs.
The complete preliminary results of the seven-day voting will be announced again in Khartoum on 2 February. If no legal objections are filed against those figures, the outcome will be ratified as final on 7 February. If legal proceedings are initiated, the SSRC is required by law to issue a final official result no later than 14 February.