“What we have in front of us is peace,” said Catholic Archbishop Paulino Lukudo, after the week-long voting on the Referendum. Let us rejoice that violence did not break out in mass demonstrations. Yes, there were attacks along the North-South border, especially in the disputed Abyei region, but overall, peace mingled with unrestrained joy reigned.
We mourn those who lost their lives just as the voting began, for each life is
precious, but there is no hint of another brewing civil war. Amid a jubilant church service celebration in Juba, President Silva Kiir did not forget those who had died in the struggle leading to this day. He said with emotion, “For our deceased brothers and sisters, particularly those who have fallen during the time of the struggle, may God bless them with eternal peace.” He included a prayer of forgiveness for northern Sudan and the killings that occurred during the 21-year civil war.
U. S. President Barack Obama issued a statement Sunday congratulating Sudan on the peaceful voting. “The sight of so many Sudanese casting their votes in a peaceful and orderly fashion was an inspiration to the world and a tribute to the determination of the people and leaders of South Sudan to forge a better future.”
Sudan’s President Al-Bashir and his government have pledged to accept the result of the voting, which so far appears to be heavily in favor of an independent South—like 98% in Juba.
Much remains to be determined, however: demarcation of the North-South border, oil rights, and how to divide up the Abyei (scroll to The Problem with Abyei) region. In the coming months, let us hope this spirit of peace can continue.