South Sudan secures mandate to secede

South Sudan won the majority it needs to become the world`s newest state.

Juba: South Sudan won the majority it needs to become the world`s newest state with just 60 percent of results declared from a landmark vote, as some areas returned 99 percent landslides for independence, preliminary figures collated by a news agency showed.

Several of the region`s 10 states, including its most populous, Jonglei, were to begin compiling their totals on Thursday after ballot papers and results had been brought in from country centres.

But the figures gathered by the agency from state and county referendum officials around the south showed that 2,224,857 votes for separation of the mainly Christian, African south from the mainly Muslim, Arab north had already been returned by Wednesday evening.

That comfortably exceeds the simple majority of 1.89 million votes needed on the 96-percent turnout of the 3,932,588 registered voters.

In Lakes state, centred on Rumbek town which served as rebel headquarters during a devastating 1983-2005 civil war with the north, 298,216 of 300,444 votes cast were for independence, more than 99.9 percent.

Just 227 opted to remain united with the north -- less than a tenth of one percent -- with the balance made up by blank or invalid ballots.

In Central Equatoria, which includes the regional capital Juba and is the south`s second most populous state, 449,321, or 98.2 percent of the 457,452 votes cast, were for secession.

In Juba, a once sleepy town now poised to become the world`s newest national capital, cheers and applause rang out as the head of the county`s referendum sub-committee, Timon Wani, announced a 97.5-percent majority for independence.

On Sunday, southern president Salva Kiir joined thousands of faithful in going to church to give thanks for the referendum and pay tribute to the estimated two million people who died in the civil war.

Bureau Report