Sudan will split into two countries later this year, officials announced Sunday, marking the climax of a decade-long peace process meant to end 50 years of conflict in Africa's largest country. But political protests raised questions about the north's stability.
Southerners celebrated their upcoming independence with dancing, but anti-government protesters in the north clashed with police, reflecting a wave of popular anger that has swept across the Arab world in recent weeks.
Student-led demonstrations against Omar al Bashir's regime in Sudan's northern capital, Khartoum, are the latest protests against authoritarian governments that began with Tunisia and has since spread to Egypt and Yemen.
Southern Sudan voted 99.57 percent for separation in the Jan. 9-15 referendum on independence, poll officials announced on Sunday in Juba, the southern capital. Added to a smaller pool of Southern Sudanese voters living in the northern region and across the globe, the final tally for separation is 98.83 percent, according to the referendum commission's website.
"These results lead to a change of situation, that's the emergence of two states instead of one state," Mohamed Ibrahim Khalil, the head of the Southern Sudan Referendum Commission, announced in Juba.