Joy as south Sudan nationhood vote confirmed valid

Organisers of a landmark south Sudan independence vote confirmed that the turnout threshold needed for it to be valid has been reached as ex-US president Jimmy Carter said the region looked set for nationhood.

Last Updated: Jan 13, 2011, 21:43 PM IST

Juba: Organisers of a landmark
south Sudan independence vote confirmed today that the turnout
threshold needed for it to be valid has been reached as ex-US
president Jimmy Carter said the region looked set for
nationhood.

Drivers honked their horns in the regional capital
Juba as southerners hailed the turnout achievement in just
four days of the week-long polls, saying it showed the
importance of freedom to them after five decades of conflict
with the north.

"We are already above the threshold yesterday -- some
2.3 million plus -- and more today," said referendum
commission deputy chairman Chan Reec.

"At the end of the fourth day of polling, with 86 per
cent of referendum centres reporting, 2,360,922 people are
confirmed to have voted in southern Sudan. This exceeds the 60
per cent threshold figure of 2,359,553."

Carter, who has been heading an observer mission, said
he expected to the vote to meet all of the criteria to be
valid.

"There is no doubt about the legitimacy of the
election as far as the number of voters is concerned," Carter
told reporters.

"I think it will meet international standards both on
the conduct of the vote and the freedom of voters," he said,
adding he expected the same to be true of the count.

"The likelihood is that the referendum result will be
for independence although we won`t know until probably the
first week of February," he added.

Cars draped with the southern flag and banners calling
for separation sounded their horns as they criss-crossed
Juba`s potholed dirt tracks.

There was jubilation at the tomb of veteran rebel
leader John Garang, who shortly before his death signed the
2005 peace deal that ended 22 years of devastating civil war
and paved the way for the independence vote.

PTI