(eTN) – After millions of eligible voters had cast their votes last week across the vast Southern Sudanese territory, the vote count is now underway. International observers, like former US President Carter, former UN supremo Kofi Annan, and a host of others, representing the who’s who of human rights, civil liberty, and democratic principle organizations, came to the Southern Sudan to not just observe but form almost a human shield around voting centers to allow the vote to proceed in peace.
Fears had persisted that Khartoum friendly militias may try to disrupt the voting process, but the large contingent of international and African observers made this well near impossible for them, without causing major international incidents. The East African Community, now getting ready to receive joining applications from Juba soon after formal independence of the South – expected to be celebrated on July 9 – had observers there, as did COMESA, IGAD – the inter governmental authority on development – and, of course, the African Union.
The people in the south were happy to make friends with many of them and already after the first few days, the mandatory minimum of 60 percent participation was reached, which eventually ended with percentages reaching well into the 90 percent margi. A few of those, according to well-informed sources close to the tallying and counting centers, would have opted to remain in the union with the perceived oppressors from the regime in the north.
Formal announcements of the results are scheduled for early February, but the initial trend is already as clear as can be – a new country will be born in Africa, and the decades-long struggle of the people of the Southern Sudan for liberties and freedom will at last become reality.