Southern Sudanese Vote Overwhelmingly To Secede

Originally published on January 30, 2011 9:51 am
Copyright 2018 NPR. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/.

LIANE HANSEN, Host:

And, Frank, boy, why was this vote so decisive? Did you expect that?

FRANK LANGFITT: The South is very underdeveloped. There are maybe 25 miles of paved roads down here - it's nearly the size of Texas. So there was a real feeling that people wanted to have their own country and kind of a chance to choose their own destiny.

HANSEN: The United States brokered the peace agreement in 2005 between North and South Sudan. The Obama administration put a lot of pressure on the leaders in Khartoum not to sabotage the voting. How is the U.S. government viewed there in Juba?

LANGFITT: So I think that there's a lot appreciation here for what the has U.S. done. And I think it's largely seen so far as a foreign policy victory.

HANSEN: The countries surrounding Southern Sudan - the Democratic Republic of Congo, the Central African Republic - they've been plagued by violence, terrible leadership. Are people worried that Southern Sudan might face similar problems once it's independent?

LANGFITT: A lot of the violence during war was actually Southerners fighting Southerners. And a lot of the rebels who are against the leadership here have come in from cold for the referendum. But there's worry that they may, after it becomes an independent country, frankly, go back to the bush and start fighting again and trying to get the spoils - which in this case, are a lot of oil reserves down here in the South.

HANSEN: So where do you go next in Southern Sudan?

LANGFITT: So I'm going up actually to look at a place where there was recently a raid, and try to look at what the government is doing to kind of reduce violence and bring more stability here before independence.

HANSEN: NPR's Frank Langfitt, safe travels, Frank. Thanks a lot.

LANGFITT: Thanks a lot, Liane.

HANSEN: You're listening to NPR News. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.