Southern Sudan Referendum Results Announced!

Posted by Sarah Caughey on Thu, 10 Feb 2011 | 0 comments | Bookmark: digg this Post this to Post this to Facebook

After weeks of waiting, the results of the referendum in Southern Sudan were announced. John and Poppy Spens in Yei Diocese share with us an eye witness update…

At about 9 pm yesterday evening, we were at home finishing things off after a long day. Suddenly, there was an eruption of noise – shouts, cheers, fireworks – the sound grew and grew from all around us.

We soon realised that it wasn’t the sound of fireworks but of gunfire. Guns that had once been weapons of warfare were now firing in joy into the night sky, celebrating the fact that the people of South Sudan had voted by an overwhelming majority in favour of cessation.

We could look back to that week in January when, from January 9th, for one week, people queued for their turn to vote. The numbers were huge; the queues were long and the sun was hot, as January is one of the hottest seasons in South Sudan. But people waited patiently, excited that after decades of war, they now had the opportunity to express their views through the ballot box. The turn-out was very high – it had to be over 60% to meet the requirements set by the Referendum Commission – and by the end of the week, almost every registered voter had voted.

Then there was an anxious period as the votes were counted but gradually the news filtered out.

In many polling stations, only a handful had voted for unity. In most, over 99% had voted for cessation from the north. The Government and the Church urged everyone to be patient and not to celebrate but to keep calm until the result was official and in case there were any legal challenge to the result.

But, earlier than expected, late yesterday evening, the result was announced on radio and television and, as news spread like wildfire, so did the sounds of celebration. As the night wore on, the gunfire grew quiet but the sound of music and singing and cheering continued. In Yei, it went on all night only becoming quiet at sunrise. We spoke to Sudanese staff and, yes, they had been up all night, singing and dancing with the crowds in Freedom Square, celebrating the day for which they had prayed for so many years.

Everyone knows that it is not over yet but all are praying that the next few months will be peaceful as they eagerly await the day of Independence – 9th July 2011. And then the partying will really start!!

Please continue to remember Sudan in your prayers in the coming weeks and months.

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