News24

Al-Bashir: I'll support south

2011-01-04 13:10

Juba - Sudan's president says he is ready to welcome and assist Southern Sudan as a new country if it votes for independence in a referendum scheduled to begin on Sunday.

President Omar al-Bashir was in the southern capital of Juba on Tuesday for talks five days before the weeklong vote begins.

The result is widely expected to be for independence, splitting Africa's largest nation in two.

"Imposing unity by force doesn't work," al-Bashir told southern officials and civil society leaders.

"We want unity between the north and the south but this doesn't mean opposing the desire of the southern citizen."

Hundreds of pro-independence demonstrators waited outside the airport for al-Bashir, chanting and waving placards.