Few generations have the chance to shape the future of their people in such dramatic way as the people of southern Sudan do today. Few people get to witness the birth of a new nation. And few nations divide in peace. The success of today’s voting is a sign that all of this is happening in Sudan right now.
Thousands of people were already lined up at every polling station around Juba when the voting opened this morning at 8am. Throughout the day long lines persisted, as people cast their votes. Despite the crowds and long waits, the people were patient and joyful. People congratulated each other as they voted. There was a general feeling of solemnity in the air, a state of awe at the historic event we were witnessing and participating in. It is hard to describe the intensity of the overarching feeling of joy and pride that pervaded Juba today.
The Catholic and Episcopal Archbishops went together to vote, with a delegation of observers including Muslim and Christian leaders from different parts of Africa. They arrived to great applause by the people waiting in line at the polling station. International and domestic observers came and went as we were at the polling station. Jimmy and Rosalynn Carter were among the International observers who came by. Jimmy Carter greeted the Archbishops, and all the people gathered there. He thanked the other observers for their presence, and encouraged the voters with confident words and a glowing smile. He spent a few minutes speaking with the Archbishops about their experience of the vote, and telling them about his own commitment as a Christian.
The voting will continue through Saturday, and the announcement of the result will be a week or so afterward. Should separation be the result, the transition period will end with the establishment of a new nation on July 9, 2011.
We praise God for this joyful peaceful day, and we continue to pray for peace in all corners of Sudan as these events unfold.
(Photos by anonymous: Voters wait patiently outside a Juba polling station. And Archbishop Daniel Deng Bul (right), and Archbishop Paulino Lukudu (center), show their inked fingers to President Jimmy Carter after voting.)