Submitted by: Angela Stephens, USAID Africa Bureau

Today it was announced that in a landslide vote nearly 99% of southern Sudanese voters opted to secede from Sudan.  The Government of Sudan has formally accepted the outcome, an important step in preserving peace in a region that has suffered through decades of war.

But just weeks ago, it was unclear whether it was politically, technically, and logistically possible to hold the referendum on time, in a way that would be considered legitimate and credible.  There were also real fears that if the referendum did not begin as scheduled on January 9, conflict could erupt.

Watch this video by USAID staff on the ground in Sudan about the international effort to assist the people of southern Sudan with their monumental and historic undertaking.

The successful voting process resulted from the coordinated efforts of USAID technical staff and their partners, U.S. diplomats, the Southern Sudan Referendum Commission and its Juba bureau, the United Nations, and other donors.  Despite extreme obstacles, the referendum began on time and was peaceful and orderly, with a turnout exceeding 97.5 percent and more than 3.8 million votes cast.  The process was uniformly lauded by international observers—such as the African Union, the Arab League, the European Union, the Intergovernmental Authority on Development, and The Carter Center—as legitimate and transparent.

Southern Sudan is expected to declare its independence and become a new nation on July 9.  USAID will continue to provide assistance to the people of Sudan, north and south, responding to humanitarian needs and helping to improve governance, food security, and livelihoods.

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