The United States will recognize southern Sudan as a new, independent country in July, President Obama announced Monday.
The announcement, which had been expected, came on the day that officials formally announced that 98% of the votes cast in the Jan. 9 referendum supported splitting Sudan into separate countries. More than 2 million people died during the civil war, which officially ended in a 2005 peace agreement.
“On behalf of the people of the United States, I congratulate the people of southern Sudan for a successful and inspiring referendum in which an overwhelmingly majority of voters chose independence,” Obama said in a prepared statement.
“After decades of conflict, the images of millions of southern Sudanese voters deciding their own future was an inspiration to the world and another step forward in Africa’s long journey toward justice and democracy,” Obama stated. “Now, all parties have a responsibility to ensure that this historic moment of promise becomes a moment of lasting progress.
The south is principally Christian, and the north Muslim. The separate countries still have to negotiate a range of issues, including citizenship, borders, and oil rights and revenues. In his statement, Obama said the “outstanding disputes must be resolved peacefully. At the same time, there must be an end to attacks on civilians in Darfur and a definitive end to that conflict.”
The United States also is willing consider removing Sudan from its list of states that sponsor terrorism. Sudan’s president, Omar Bashir, has been indicted for war crimes in connection with the deaths in Sudan’s western region, Darfur.