Juba: Former UN chief Kofi Annan called for the enthusiasm shown by south Sudanese voters for a landmark independence referendum to be rewarded with concrete results.
"It is important that the energy and enthusiasm lead
to solid results that are accepted by everybody," Annan said
after touring a polling station in a school in southern
regional capital Juba with ex-US president Jimmy Carter.
"I believe this is democracy at its most basic where
people are choosing their future and by whom they wish to be
governed," he said.
"I hope that all the parties will respect the results
once they are announced, because the people are the ultimate
South Sudanese turned out in jubilant droves to vote
on the first day of the week-long referendum, expected to lead
to the partition of Africa`s largest nation and the creation
of the world`s newest state.
Thousands had queued through the night to be among the
first to have their say on whether the impoverished south
should finally break away from rule by Khartoum, ending five
decades of conflict with the north.
Carter, who held talks with northern leaders in
Khartoum before heading to Juba for the vote, said he believed
the prospects for the referendum to result in new violence had
greatly receded in recent days.
"In the last few days the chances of conflict after
the vote have been greatly lessened," he said.
"Now there is a general acceptance in the north and
south that if a vote for independence should be cast -- and we
don`t know that yet -- then it will be accepted peacefully."
The two-men co-chair a referendum observer mission
being run by the former US president`s Carter Centre
foundation which has some 100 observers monitoring the conduct
of the vote both in the south and among southerners living in
"Reports from all the nation, both north and south, so
far have been that everything is calm and peaceful, and that
the people seem to be very enthusiastic about voting," Carter
said, although he added without comment: "Not many people so
far are voting in the north."
Polling stations in Khartoum in the
first hours of voting remained largely deserted in stark
contrast with the jubilant scenes in the south.