• 21:54
  • Sunday ,23 January 2011

Report: Vote for Southern Sudan independence nearly unanimous

By-Faith Karimi, CNN

International News


Sunday ,23 January 2011

Report: Vote for Southern Sudan independence nearly unanimous

(CNN) -- An overwhelming majority of Southern Sudanese voted to split from the north, new preliminary results show, bringing the largest nation in Africa closer to breaking into two.

The results, published Friday on the website of the commission that ran the referendum, show 98.6% voted for a split. The preliminary results are based on 83% of votes counted in the south and all votes from eligible southerners elsewhere, including overseas.
Southern Sudanese voters applauded the figures, the latest in a series of indications that secession would win by a wide margin.
Last week, election officials announced that the turnout had passed the threshold needed for the referendum to be valid.
"Wow, just wow," said Marko Ayii, 25, a Southern Sudan native who lives in Atlanta. "We can't wait for the vote to become official so we can have parties to mark the separation."
The almost unanimous outcome is not surprising, said Deng Leuth, who lives in Atlanta.
"We fought for years; we have never lived in harmony ever since I was young," the 26-year-old said. "I doubt many people would have voted to stay together."
Leuth said he's looking forward to becoming a citizen of an independent state.
"People saying that we cannot survive without the north will be surprised," he said.
Preliminary results show voters in almost every state in the south voted to split by about 99%.
However, 42% of Southern Sudanese living in the north of the country voted for unity, according to the results.
Sudan's north and south have been at war for two decades in a conflict that killed 2 million people.
The referendum on whether to declare independence from the government based in the north is part of a 2005 peace agreement that helped end the conflict. The war pitted a government dominated by Arab Muslims in northern Sudan against black Christians or animists in the south.
A majority of Sudan's oil reserves are in the south, another flashpoint in the war.
Several million voters cast ballots, including expatriates in the United States and seven other countries.
Official results will be announced on February 14, according to the Southern Sudan Referendum Commission, which ran the referendum.
The south would become a new nation in July if the vote is validated and no other obstacles emerge.