South Sudan voted overwhelmingly to declare independence in final results of a referendum announced on Monday, opening the door to Africa's newest state and a fresh period of uncertainty for the fractured region.
Hundreds of south Sudanese danced, screamed and waved flags as the announcement was broadcast on a line of TV sets in a square in the center of the southern capital Juba.
A total of 98.83 percent of voters from Sudan's oil-producing south chose to secede from the north in last month's referendum, the chairman of the vote's organizing commission Mohammed Ibrahim Khalil said.
The formal announcement in Khartoum was disrupted by one northern woman who began wailing in grief and was led from the room. "Sudan is one country. Why should it separate?" she told journalists, saying she had relatives in the south.
The referendum is the climax of a 2005 north-south peace accord that set out to end Africa's longest civil war and instill democracy in a country that straddles the continent's Arab-sub Saharan divide.
Sudanese President Omar Hassan al-Bashir earlier said he accepted the result, allaying fears that the split could reignite conflict over the control of the south's oil reserves.
"Today we received these results and we accept and welcome these results because they represent the will of the southern people," he said in an address on state TV.
Southern officials say the question of a name for the new state is unresolved but it could become just "South Sudan."
South Sudan's leader Salva Kiir added to the conciliatory mood by promising he would help Khartoum campaign for the forgiveness of the country's crippling debts and the easing of international trade sanctions in coming months.
Both sides avoided major outbreaks of violence over the past five years. But they failed to overcome decades of deep mutual distrust to persuade southerners to embrace unity.