[JURIST] A total of 98.83 percent [SSRC materials] of nearly 3.8 million southern Sudanese voters voted in favor of secession in last month’s Southern Sudan’s Independence Referendum, according to the final polling results released Monday by the Southern Sudan Referendum Commission [official website]. After the official results were announced in the northern capital of Khartoum, Sudanese President Omar al-Bashir [BBC profile; JURIST news archive], who campaigned against secession, issued a formal decree [NYT report] accepting the result of the referendum. In an address [Reuters report] on state television, al-Bashir said that he welcomed the results because they represent the will of the southern people. Experts had feared that the ruling National Congress Party (NCP) [party website] of al-Bashir would try to stop the election because, depending on where the border is drawn, it could result in as much as 80 percent of the nation’s oil reserves landing in the new southern state. Last month, preliminary results revealed [JURIST report] an overwhelming majority of voters voted in favor of secession. With the South’s secession from the North, the world’s 193rd country will be announced on July 9 in Juba, the capital of Southern Sudan.
In September, a human rights expert told the UN that Sudan was not prepared [JURIST report] for the referendum. Mohamed Chande Othman, a Tanzanian judge and independent expert on the Sudan human rights situation, presented a report [text, PDF] to the UN Human Rights Council [official website] in Geneva warning that Sudan did not have the necessary infrastructure in place and cited major setbacks, including the suppression of free speech and of the press, restrictions on other civil and political rights, and inadequate protection of society due to a lack of well-trained police officers, prosecutors and judges. The report also stated that there are unresolved issues, including border demarcation, residency and voter eligibility, as well as the lack of a referendum commission in the contentious region of Abyei in southern Sudan. According to the 2005 Comprehensive Peace Agreement (CPA) [UN report], the 10 states of Southern Sudan may form a new nation if voter turnout for the referendum exceeds 60 percent and 50 percent of voters approve of independence.