The streets of South Sudan's capital Juba were filled with people dancing with joy over the official announcement today that the proposed-nation's independence referendum has passed with more than 98 percent of southerners voting to secede.
In Khartoum, Sudan President Omar Al-Bashir and South Sudan President Salva Kiir were together as the official results were announced. Earlier Bashir repeated that the Khartoum government will accept and support the results.
"Today we received these results and we accept and welcome these results because they represent the will of the southern people," Bashir said on state television.
The Obama administration also welcomed the results and congratulated both parties on a largely considered fair and peaceful vote.
"I am therefore pleased to announce the intention of the United States to formally recognize Southern Sudan as a sovereign, independent state in July 2011," President Obama says in a statement.
Secretary of State Hillary Clinton issued a statement that the United States would begin the process to remove Sudan from the state-sponsored terror list, a list that has resulted in the country being under strict economic sanctions for over a decade.
"Removal of the State Sponsor of Terrorism designation will take place if and when Sudan meets all criteria spelled out in U.S. law, including not supporting international terrorism for the preceding six months and providing assurance it will not support such acts in the future, and fully implements the 2005 Comprehensive Peace Agreement, including reaching a political solution on Abyei and key post-referendum arrangements," Clinton said.
Not mentioned in the statement is the conflict in Darfur. Sudan activists such as the Enough Project and the Save Darfur Coalition have asked the Obama administration to make finding a peaceful solution to the war a requirement for normalized relations with the United States. Bashir currently faces charges of war crimes and genocide for his role in ordering the mass murders, rapes and displacement of hundreds of thousands of people.
Actor George Clooney who works with the Enough Project told ABC News that the United States needs to make it clear that being taken off the terror list is dependent on Sudan both supporting the referendum process and finding a solution to Darfur.
According to Clooney the Obama administration needs to say, "Omar Bashir, you want normalized relations with the United States? You want to be taken off the terror watch list? You want to be treated like an adult in the adult world? Then you have to act like an adult which means you're also going to have to behave in Darfur, because you can't beat one of your kids and treat the other one well."
Not surprisingly, Khartoum rejects this idea and says Darfur is not part of the 2005 peace agreement which ended the 20-year civil war between the north and south, was never part of the original discussions surrounding the referendum and shouldn't be injected now. The country, Sudanese officials say, has "delivered" on its promise for a peaceful referendum.
The final split won't occur until July and until that time negotiations over oil-revenue sharing, border demarcation and the status of the oil-producing border region Abyei continue to threaten what fragile peace the country currently has.