JUBA, SUDAN -- Paolino Lukudu Loro, the Archbishop of Juba, was smiling after casting his vote late Sunday afternoon here, towards the end of the first day of a weeklong referendum that will likely lead southern Sudan to split from the northern part of the country.
Southern Sudanese packed the polls all day Sunday and so far, fears about violence or other tampering appeared to be unrealized.
“Everybody is just very happy and very peaceful,” said Loro, as he prepared to leave the polling place, the Hai Jelaba Basic School. He gestured towards the crowd of roughly hundred men and women waiting patiently in line. “They don’t want any war or any trouble. They want peace. And I think these people have decided to live their own lives as Africans and as peacefully as possible.
In Juba, the capital of the region, the day was marked by a large and vibrant celebration at the polling place located near the burial site of John Garang, considered southern Sudan’s founder.