To day January 9th, southern Sudan voters have started a long-week landmark referendum to decide whether to stay within the united Sudan or vote for cessation. This voting which may result in the birth of the newest state in the African continent is guaranteed by the Comperhensive Peace Agreement (CPA), signed in Naivacha, Kenya, 2995 between the Sudan Governemtn (SG) and the Sudan People's Liberation Movement (SPLM) which put an end to a two-decade war that claimed two million lives and scattered millions in internal displacement as well as in neighboring countries.
The voting started peacefully early today across Sudan where 1400 international observers are scattered to different ballots. Voting is also expected to start today in other eight countries where large numbers of Southerners are expected.
Salva Kiir president of South Sudan Government was the first to cast his poll, followed by officials. He also paid tribute to the tomb of John Garang, who established the SPLM in 1983 and fought for more than 22 years with the Islamic government in the North. Kiir also addressed the cheerful crowd who gathered wearing T-Shirts marked with "we love you Dr. John (John Garang), recognizing his role in leading the south to the CPA that established for the July 9th referendum on self determination and an interim period of five years of ceasing hostility with the North.
"This is a most important and decisive moment in your life. It is not the end of a journey, but the beginning of a new journey,” said Salva Kiir adding that this day marked the no return to war and that there was no substitute for peaceful co-existence for the coming generation.
According to Al Jazeera international channel, "a total of 3.9 million southerners have registered for the self-determination vote that may lead to the partition of Africa's largest country.
The breakdown of the registrants is: southern Sudan, 3.7 million; northern states, 116,000; and the diaspora spread over eight countries, 60,000."
Juba started celebrating independence upon receiving president Omar al-Bashir in his last week final trip to the south as President of Sudan. Crowds gathered at roads leading Juba airport were holding banners saying "bye bye president al-Bashir."
Today's poll is expected to split the giant country in Africa which once represented a model of peaceful coexistence between Muslims, Christians and animists.
If South Sudan votes for cessation, it will have turned a page to 37 years of devastating wars that crippled it and hindered its development and prosperity. The first war broke out in 1955 and ended in 1972 with the signing of the Addis Ababa agreement. the last one started in 1983 and ended in 2005 when the CPA put an end to the longest and deadliest war in Africa.