The results are no surprise: a survey before the independence referendum last month already showed that about 97 percent said they would vote in favor for their own state. But the results released by the South Sudan Referendum Commission on Monday made it real: 98.83 percent voted for separation from Sudan.
Sudan President Omar al-Bashir had previously said he would accept the secession result, allowing the creation of an independent state by early July. The new nation will be called Southern Sudan with its capital in Juba, which currently is a mud-hut town
The official results were welcomed by the international community. "The results, which showed that 98.83 percent of all voters chose independence, are reflective of the will of the people of Southern Sudan," said Martin Nesirky, the personal spokesman for United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon. "The peaceful and credible conduct of the referendum is a great achievement for all Sudanese."
Ban called on the international community to assist all Sudanese towards greater stability and development and reiterated the commitment of the United Nations towards this end and assured continued UN assistance and support to the Comprehensive Peace Agreement (CPA) partners.
In the United States, President Barack Obama congratulated the people of Southern Sudan for a 'successful and inspiring' referendum. "I am therefore pleased to announce the intention of the United States to formally recognize Southern Sudan as a sovereign, independent state in July 2011," he said.
Obama said all parties have a responsibility to ensure that "this historic moment of promise" becomes a lasting progress for Southern Sudan, which has seen decades of conflict. "The Comprehensive Peace Agreement must be fully implemented and outstanding disputes must be resolved peacefully. At the same time, there must be an end to attacks on civilians in Darfur and a definitive end to that conflict," Obama added.
In addition, U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton said it is initiating the process of withdrawing Sudan's State Sponsor of Terrorism designation, the first step of which is initiating a review of that designation. "Removal of the State Sponsor of Terrorism designation will take place if and when Sudan meets all criteria spelled out in U.S. law, including not supporting international terrorism for the preceding six months and providing assurance it will not support such acts in the future, and fully implements the 2005 Comprehensive Peace Agreement, including reaching a political solution on Abyei and key post-referendum arrangements," Clinton said.
In Europe, European Union High Representative Catherine Ashton called the voting results a "historic moment for Sudan."Despite many obstacles, the Sudanese Referendum authorities were able to organize a referendum in a timely and credible manner as witnessed by the EU Electoral Observation Mission. An overwhelming majority of registered voters participated and resoundingly expressed their determination to establish an independent state," Ashton said.