Many nations in North Africa and the Middle East are no stranger to election results that seem less than democratic. In 2006, Yemeni President Ali Abdallah Saleh won re-election with seventy-seven percent of the popular vote. In 2005, Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak took eighty-eight percent of the vote. And in 2009, Tunisia's now ex-President Zine El Abidine Ben Ali commanded nearly ninety percent of the vote.
It may be hard to imagine a country in the same region where a free, fair and transparent election results in more than ninety eight percent of people voting for the same outcome. But that's exactly what happened in Southern Sudan, where 98.83 percent of nearly four million voters chose separation from their countrymen to the north.
It seems certain that on July 9 of this year, Africa — and the world — will see the birth of a new nation. The results set the stage for the possible return of thousands of southern Sudanese, including many who currently live in the United States.
Kuek Garang and Mayom Bol Achuk are both planning to return home. They tell us about their plans to start over in southern Sudan.