Jubilant Sudanese celebrate vote
Southern Sudanese in the capital Juba thronged to their churches to pray and give thanks for the successful and peaceful conduct of the week-long referendum which ended on January 15.
Addressing the congregation at St Theresa Catholic Cathedral in Juba, Salva Kiir, President of the Government of the southern Sudan, who is a staunch Catholic, prayed for the forgiveness of northern Sudanese who committed atrocities during the two decade war which ended in 2005 with the signing of the Comprehensive Peace Agreement (CPA).
The southern Sudan referendum for independence was provided for in the CPA at the end of the six year interim period.
Kiir expressed gratitude for the peaceful conduct of the referendum which he attributed to the discipline of the people of southern Sudan. However, he cautioned southern Sudanese against holding premature parties and celebrations, because he said the referendum results were yet to be released.
According to the Southern Sudan Referendum Commission, official results of the referendum will be released early February.
The counting of votes started immediately at the close of polls on the last day of voting on Saturday. Votes counted in some of the polling stations in Juba indicate that the overwhelming majority of votes were in favour of separation.
Southern Sudanese went to vote in a referendum to choose to either remain in a united Sudan or secede.
Voting on the last day, Anglican Assistant Bishop Paul Yugusuk blew a vuvuzela at one of the polling stations. He said blowing the vuvuzela was to signal the end of the voting, as well as inequality and marginalization.
Optimistic southerners have expressed a strong opinion that the referendum results will deliver a brand new country to Africa.