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.
In This Story: International Criminal Court
The International Criminal Court is an intergovernmental organization and international tribunal that sits in The Hague, Netherlands. The ICC is the first and only permanent international court with jurisdiction to prosecute individuals for the international crimes of genocide, crimes against humanity, war crimes, and the crime of aggression. It is intended to complement existing national judicial systems and it may therefore exercise its jurisdiction only when national courts are unwilling or unable to prosecute criminals.
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In This Story: South Sudan
It includes the vast swamp region of the Sudd, formed by the White Nile and known locally as the Bahr al Jabal meaning “Mountain Sea”.
South Sudan has a population of 12 million, mostly of the Nilotic peoples, and it is demographically among the youngest nations in the world, with roughly half under 18 years old. The majority of inhabitants adhere to Christianity or various traditional faiths.
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In This Story: Sudan
Sudan’s history goes back to the Pharaonic period. Independence from the British was proclaimed on 1 January 1956.
Islam was Sudan’s state religion and Islamic laws applied from 1983 until 2020 when the country became a secular state. The economy has been described as lower-middle income and relies on oil production. Sudan is a member of the United Nations, the Arab League, African Union, COMESA, Non-Aligned Movement and the Organisation of Islamic Co-operation.