Preliminary results from the referendum on the future of Southern Sudan show that the people have voted overwhelmingly in favour of secession from the rest of Sudan.
The 9-15 January referendum on the self-determination of Southern Sudan was the culmination of the Comprehensive Peace Agreement (CPA) signed in 2005 to end two decades of civil war between the Government of Sudan and the Sudan People’s Liberation Movement/Army (SPLM/A).
In Addis Ababa the Heads of State and Government at the African Union summit issued the following congratulations on the completion of the plebiscite process:
We congratulate the people of Sudan on the successful achievement of the principal pillar of the January 2005 Comprehensive Peace Agreement (CPA), the referendum on self determination for southern Sudan. This success confirms the commitment of the Sudanese people and their leaders never to return to war, and hitherto to resolve any differences that may arise exclusively by peaceful means.
We hail the courage, vision and steadfastness of the Government of Sudan (GoS), under the leadership of President Omar Hassan al Bashir and First Vice President and President of the Government of Southern Sudan (GoSS) Salva Kiir Mayardit, which has made possible this momentous achievement. Our continent stands shoulder to shoulder, equally with these two national leaders, as they fulfill their historic responsibilities.
The statement went on to call for the suspension of actions against President Bashir by the International Criminal Court and for armed groups in Darfur to ceasefire and take part in the Doha process.
The UN Secretary General, Ban Ki Moon, addressed the summit on the issue saying:
“Sudan has reached a historic point. All reports indicate a generally peaceful referendum process with a large turnout.
“As the Sudanese people adjust to the new realities on the ground, the CPA parties must shift their attention to the key post-referendum arrangements that will sustain the North-South relationship in the long term.
“And the futures of millions of Southerners and Northerners depend upon agreements that guarantee basic rights, freedom of movement and livelihoods, regardless of where they live.”
Abeyi, an oil-rich region straddling North and South had a separate referendum following disagreements within the local populace.