Over 99% in Southern Sudan vote for secession

Southern Sudan`s referendum commission said that more than 99% of voters in the south opted to secede from the country`s north in a vote held earlier this month.

Juba: Southern Sudan`s referendum
commission said on Sunday that more than 99 per cent of voters in
the south opted to secede from the country`s north in a vote
held earlier this month.

The announcement drew cheers from a crowd of thousands
that gathered in Juba, the dusty capital of what may become
the world`s newest country.

The weeklong vote, held in early January and widely
praised for being peaceful and for meeting international
standards, was a condition of a 2005 peace agreement that
ended a north-south civil war that lasted two decades and
killed 2 million people.

The head of the commission`s southern bureau, Justice
Chan Reec Madut, said today that voter turnout in the 10
states in the south was also 99 per cent. He said only some
16,000 voters in the south chose to remain united with
northern Sudan, while 3.7 million chose to separate.

In northern Sudan, 58 per cent of voters chose
secession, said Mohamed Ibrahim Khalil, chairman of the
referendum commission. He said some 60 per cent of eligible
voters participated.

Southern Sudanese voters in eight foreign countries
overwhelmingly supported secession, he said, with 99 per cent
support for secession among the 97 per cent of voters who

In the United States, he said, more than 99 per cent
of the 8,500 southerners who cast votes chose secession.

"These results lead to a change of situation," said
Khalil after he read the results. "That change relates only to
the constitutional form of relationship between north and
south. North and south are drawn together in indissoluble
geographic and historic bonds".

Referendum commission officials did not announce an
overall percentage total for all votes cast. The commission`s
website said that 98.8 per cent of voters chose secession, but
noted that the figure may change.

If the process stays on track, Southern Sudan will
become the world`s newest country in July. Border demarcation,
oil rights and the status of the contested region of Abyei
still have to be negotiated.

UN chief Ban Ki-moon praised the conduct of the
election, but said much still needed to be done.

"We are still very much concerned about
post-referendum issues -- border security, citizenship, wealth
sharing, demarcation, popular consultations in South Kordofan
and Blue Nile States, and most importantly the status of
Abyei," he said while addressing African leaders at an African
Union summit in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia.


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