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It’s Official: South Sudan Votes For Independence

It’s Official: South Sudan Votes For Independence

In an outcome that was exciting but not unexpected, the final vote tally for South Sudan’s secession revealed that the region voted almost unanimously for independence.  The vote will split Africa’s largest country, which ended a 22-year civil war with a peace agreement in 2005, in half.

The south will declare independence on July 9.  In the final vote count, 98.83 percent of voters backed secession.  When the news was announced in the main square in Juba, South Sudan’s capital, the BBC described the atmosphere as “electric.”

“I was born in war, and I grew up as a soldier,” said Robert Duk, a student. “So for me to see this day, something I dreamed of but never could believe, is something I find hard to put into words.”

The results of the vote have been anticipated since the election, which took place in January.  Women especially hope to gain significant rights as a result of the split, which will leave North Sudan governed by Islamic law.  The violence that continued after the peace agreement in 2005 affected women in particular; a study showed that during the conflict, “36 percent of women had been gang-raped, 28 percent had been raped during abduction; other women reported being forced to have sex in exchange for food.”

But there are also worries of increased repression in North Sudan.  Many Christians fled south in anticipation of the election, and churches in the north said in January that they feared repression if Sharia law was tightened following the country’s divide.

Meanwhile, human rights advocates are warning that this outcome does not mean that the world can stop paying attention to Sudan.  Olivia Warham, director of Waging Peace, told the Guardian, “The final results of southern Sudan’s referendum on secession come as student protesters are beaten and killed on the streets of Khartoum, serving as a reminder that the world cannot see the referendum as a ‘job well done’ and turn away from Sudan.”

The north is in the midst of an economic crisis, and as refugees begin to move south, severe food and water shortages could occur.  But for now, it’s hopeful to see that the elections were conducted without violence, and that the citizens of South Sudan were able to express their desires with such conviction.

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Photo from Wikimedia Commons.

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11 comments

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8:41AM PST on Feb 16, 2011

Keep it up Sudan, BELIEVE!

4:28PM PST on Feb 9, 2011

Way to go S. Sudan.

4:19PM PST on Feb 9, 2011

With all the turmoil that has plagued Sudan for the last several years, this may have been the best plan. With that said, I would like to see the country united again so long as the north can respect the rights of all citizens. I for one don't think Islam is necessarily the problem, but I DO think the faith has been corrupted by a bunch of lunatics who are hell-bent on destroying the world a bit at a time!

For the record I'd like to know where the new boundary is and what the new Capital is. Just curious.

4:08PM PST on Feb 9, 2011

Thanks for the update Amelia, and please keep them coming.
I pray that they have their independence in South Sudan and that the women & young girls in particular will be safe!!
July is still quite awhile away. Peace be with them!

6:42AM PST on Feb 9, 2011

I wish the south luck with their independance and a democratic government. As long as there are religions that require people to convert non believers there will be war.

5:25AM PST on Feb 9, 2011

Good luck to Southern Sudan, hope they are able to accommodate christian refugees from the north and we might finally have peace in the region.

5:24AM PST on Feb 9, 2011

"Pray for the Christians in Northern Sudan."

-Amen

4:13AM PST on Feb 9, 2011

What happened to freedom struggle of people of Kashmir where India is doing same thing what Sudan did to people of the South Sudan is any one there to help save people being killed every day in KASHMIR and get them freedom as they did for the people of South Sudan

3:29AM PST on Feb 9, 2011

i hope they get it

8:46AM PST on Feb 8, 2011

They deserve independence and I hope they will get it.

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