Southern Sudan is set to become an independent country on July 9 after nearly 99 percent of voters chose secession in a referendum earlier this month.
The preliminary results of the vote, announced Jan. 30, were met with celebration in the Southern capital of Juba where thousands gathered and listened to leader Salva Kiir Mayardi. Kiir said the Southern government will continue to cooperate with the north as the separation approaches.
“We are not going to put down the flag of Sudan until July 9,” Kiir said, according to the Christian Science Monitor.
Out of the 10 Southern Sudanese states that voted, only Western Bahr El Ghazal registered any significant support for unity, which totaled less than 5 percent of the region’s votes. Of the Southerners who cast their ballots in Northern Sudan, 42 percent voted for unity. The Southern Sudanese diaspora voted 98.5 percent for secession.
Final referendum results are due to be announced Feb.7, according to the website of the Sudan People’s Liberation Movement.