7 February 2011 – After presenting the final referendum results to President Omar El-Bashir this morning, the national commission tonight announced publicly that the people of Southern Sudan had voted for secession.
More than 98 per cent of the eligible voters cast their ballots in favour of the south becoming a separate nation in the country's historic referendum, and no appeals were filed during the given three-day window, which began on 2 February.
Today will go down in history books, said Chairman of the Juba-based Southern Sudan Referendum Bureau (SSRB) Chan Reec Madut, addressing the event at Khartoum's Friendship Hall.
Mr. Madut compared today's importance to that of the signing of the Comprehensive Peace Agreement (CPA) six years ago on 9 January, and thanked the people, the Government of Sudan and the international community for their "sportsman-like spirit in which the results were received".
"It is crystal clear that the secession is decided ... but the real question is what next," Mr. Madut noted. "We have to build on the goodwill that's present and encourage the parties to resolve outstanding issues", including Abyei, the north-south border and citizenship.
Agreeing on post-referendum issues should pave the way to "a good sisterly relation between the north and south ... (and should strengthen) the already existing social fabric" of the two countries, the SSRB Chairman said. He also expected the international partners to "support the newborn nation of Southern Sudan".
Southern Sudan Referendum Commission Chairman Mohamed Ibrahim Khalil emphasized that the "correct, accurate and transparent" referendum was a result of combined efforts by the two CPA parties, supporting countries and the United Nations.
The completion of the exercise "contributes to regional peace and peace in all of Africa," said CPA Assessment and Evaluation Commission Chairman Sir Derek Plumbly.
Special Representative of the UN Secretary-General (SRSG) Haile Menkerios commended President Bashir and Vice-President Salva Kiir Mayardit for their courage and wisdom in working together to achieve this CPA milestone.
"The Sudanese people, even if in two different nations, can build a peaceful, prosperous and common future," the SRSG added.
President of the African Union High Level Panel Thabo Mbeki expressed hope that the presidents of the two Sudanese countries would live up to the expectations of all of Africa and achieve lasting peace.
The conduct of the referendum "promises to uplift the whole continent and serves as a testament for the continent to overcome conflicts and achieve its goals", Mr. Mbeki added.