Mon, Jan 10, 2011 - Page 1 News List

Annan urges results from south Sudan vote turnout

AFP, JUBA, SUDAN

A southern Sudanese voter shows his inked index finger after voting at a polling station in Khartoum yesterday in the first hours of a week-long independence referendum.

PHOTO: AFP

Former UN secretary-general Kofi Annan called yesterday for the enthusiasm shown by south Sudanese voters for a landmark independence referendum to be rewarded with concrete results.

“It is important that the energy and enthusiasm lead to solid results that are accepted by everybody,” Annan said after touring a polling station in a school in southern regional capital Juba with former US president Jimmy Carter.

“I believe this is democracy at its most basic where people are choosing their future and by whom they wish to be governed,” Annan added.

South Sudanese turned out in jubilant droves to vote on the first day of the weeklong referendum, expected to lead to the partition of Africa’s largest nation and the creation of the world’s newest state.

Thousands had lined up through the night to be among the first to have their say on whether the impoverished south should finally break away from rule by Khartoum, ending five decades of conflict with the north.

Carter, who held talks with northern leaders in Khartoum before heading to Juba for the vote, said he believed the prospects for the referendum to result in new violence had greatly receded.

“In the last few days, the chances of conflict after the vote have been greatly lessened,” he said. “Now there is a general acceptance in the north and south that if a vote for independence should be cast — and we don’t know that yet — then it will be accepted peacefully.”

The two men co-chair a referendum observer mission being run by the Carter Center foundation, which has about 100 observers monitoring the conduct of the vote both in the south and among southerners living in the north.

“Reports from all the nation, both north and south, so far have been that everything is calm and peaceful and that the people seem to be very enthusiastic about voting,” Carter said, although he added without comment: “Not many people so far are voting in the north.”

Polling stations in Khartoum visited by reporters in the first hours of voting remained largely deserted in stark contrast with the jubilant scenes in the south.

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