Election officials said Monday that more than 98 percent of ballots in the Jan. 9 vote were for independence. That means South Sudan will become the world’s newest country in July.
Mr. Obama said that, after decades of conflict, the image of millions of southern Sudanese voters deciding their own future was an inspiration to the world. He also said it’s another step forward in Africa’s long journey toward justice and democracy.
Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton commended the Sudan government for accepting the outcome.
She said in a statement that the designation will be lifted if Sudan does not support terrorism for the preceding six months and provides assurance it will not do so in future. It must also fully implement a 2005 peace agreement that ended a two-decade civil war between the north and south that killed more than 2 million people.
“We look forward to working with southern leaders as they undertake the tremendous amount of work to prepare for independence in July and ensure the creation of two viable states living alongside each other in peace,” Mrs. Clinton said.
The mainly Christian south and mainly Muslim north must still negotiate citizenship rights, oil rights and border demarcation. Virtually all of southern Sudan’s budget comes from oil revenue, and the north wants to maintain fuel supplies from the south.
Sudanese President Omar Al-Bashir, who has been indicted for war crimes in the western Sudan region of Darfur, on Monday backed the vote results and said he wanted to be the first to congratulate the south on its new state.