South Sudan in landslide vote for independence
By Opheera McDoom
KHARTOUM (Reuters) - South Sudan voted overwhelmingly to declare its independence in final results of a referendum made public on Monday, opening the door to Africa's newest state and a fresh period of uncertainty for the fractured region.
A total of 98.83 percent of voters from Sudan's oil- producing south chose to secede from the north in last month's referendum, according to a video display of the vote seen by Reuters at the venue of the announcement.
The referendum is the climax of a 2005 north-south peace accord that set out to end Africa's longest civil war and instil democracy in a country that straddles the continent's Arab-sub Saharan divide.
Sudan's President Omar Hassan al-Bashir earlier said he accepted the result of the vote, allaying fears that the split could reignite conflict over the control of the south's oil reserves.
"Today we received these results and we accept and welcome these results because they represent the will of the southern people," President Omar Hassan al-Bashir said in an address on state TV.
Southern officials say the question of a name for the new state is unresolved but it could become just "South Sudan".
South Sudan's leader Salva Kiir added to the conciliatory mood by promising he would help Khartoum campaign for the forgiveness of the country's crippling debts and the easing of international trade sanctions in coming months.
Both sides did avoid major outbreaks of violence over the past five years. But they failed to overcome decades of deep mutual distrust to persuade southerners to embrace unity. Continued...