Carter Center observers witnessed the birth of what is expected to be the world's newest nation, following Southern Sudan's Jan. 9-15 referendum on self-determination, with an overwhelming majority--a reported 98.9 percent--voting for secession from Sudan. The final results will be announced in February.
Former U.S. President Jimmy Carter, former U.N. Secretary General Kofi Annan, former Tanzania Prime Minister Joseph Warioba, and Dr. John Hardman, Carter Center president and CEO, led the Carter Center's international observation delegation. More than 100 observers were deployed across Sudan and the overseas voting locations to assess the referendum process and observe polling, counting, and tabulation.
"The entire exercise was orderly, pleasant, and productive, and it is expected that the official returns will lead to a new nation, and that The Carter Center will remain involved in both countries in promoting peace, democracy, and better health and education."-Former U.S. President Jimmy Carter
In its preliminary report, released Jan. 17, The Carter Center concluded that the despite remaining challenges the process was generally credible and was marked by an overwhelming turnout of enthusiastic voters during a peaceful and orderly seven-day voting period.
View Photos: Carter Center Observers Monitor Southern Sudan Referendum on Self-Determination >
The referendum process implements a major pillar of the 2005 Comprehensive Peace Agreement (CPA), and represents the realization of the aspirations of the people of Southern Sudan to determine their political future.
According to the Southern Sudan Referendum Commission (SSRC) and to reports of observers and others, it appears that the 60 percent turnout threshold required for a valid vote was reached several days before the end of the polling period.
In advance of the referendum, the Center deployed 16 long-term observers throughout Sudan in September 2010 to report on referendum preparations, the campaign period, and political developments. In November, an additional 56 observers were deployed in Sudan and the overseas referendum centers to monitor the voter registration process, a critical exercise determining who can participate in the referendum
While several critical stages of the process remain to be completed before final results will be announced, the referendum process to date is broadly consistent with international standards for democratic elections and represents the genuine expression of the will of the electorate, according to the Center's preliminary report.
During the referendum, President Carter answered questions submitted by New York Times readers. Read New York Times "On The Ground" Blog: President Carter, Nicholas Kristof Answer Readers' Questions About Sudan,
Video/Photo Blogs From Sudan