Southern Sudan votes for secession - KPLC 7 News, Lake Charles, Louisiana

Southern Sudan votes for secession

(Source: CNN) Residents of what will soon become South Sudan. (Source: CNN) Residents of what will soon become South Sudan.
Sudan -

SUDAN (CNN) - A new nation will be born in a few days - and it will be called South Sudan.

Preliminary results on a referendum seceding from the north showed the majority of people have voted for independence.

Dr. Barnaba Marial Benjamin, minister of information, called on all nations to welcome South Sudan.

"This nation which is going to be born is being born out of a popular decision of our people."

He also said the international community should participate and assist the young nation.

"We know where we are coming from, very difficult years in the struggle, we know where we are now and we know where we are going to. All we are asking is that we need to be assisted and cooperate with this new nation so that we come to a part of this family of civilized nations, this is what we look into."

A steering committee on post-independence has been working on several issues including the name of the new nation. They had to choose from: Nile Republic, The Kush, Juwama Republic, Azania and South Sudan.

They decided on the name that will conform to the present situation, and chose South Sudan.

"For the last six years we have been running this part as Southern Sudan and there are many things within the government structures we have got - South Sudan Police force for example you have got South Sudan Legislative Assembly, there are a lot of things," Benjamin said. "If we are going to change the name you can guess show many things we need to change."

With large numbers of southerners who are internally displaced and the new returnees, Benjamin said that there would be a need for tremendous humanitarian assistance and called on the United Nations (UN) and Non-Governmental Organizations (NGOs) for their support.

"I think this is the time where the rest of the world, especially the UN agencies and other NGOs should put into their consideration that there is going to be a great need for humanitarian assistance to the people of Southern Sudan," Benjamin said.

Early results from this month's referendum indicate almost 99 percent of southerners voted to secede after decades of civil war which claimed 2 million lives.

In his first public address, Sudan's President Omar Hassan al-Bashir pledged support for a new southern state.

Bashir said that since secession has become a reality, "we will go to the south and celebrate with them."

The president also reiterated that his government will support the new southern state, hold onto its stability and remain friends.

The referendum's preliminary results are expected to be announced by Feb. 2, and depending on whether appeals are launched in courts, the final result will be declared in two to three weeks.

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