Vote Counting Begins in Sudan Referendum

Published on Sunday 16th January 2011

Early voting results in southern Sudan's historic independence referendum indicate the region has overwhelmingly voted to become the world's newest country. An Associated Press review Sunday of early results at 10 sites in the south's capital of Juba found 30,000 votes were recorded with almost 96 percent of the ballots in favor of secession from the north.  Analysts expect voting tallies throughout south Sudan will be similar.South Sudan president Salva Kiir, in his first public declaration since the landmark independence vote ended, urged his people Sunday to "forgive" the north for the devastating civil war.  The referendum is part of the 2005 peace deal that ended 21 years of war between Sudan's Muslim-majority north and the mainly Christian and animist south.  Voting in southern Sudan ended Saturday after a week-long poll. Preliminary results will be announced on January 31 and final results are expected by February 6 at the earliest.  Election officials have confirmed that voter turnout far exceeded the 60 percent mark needed to make the poll valid.  Voting was largely peaceful, although there have been deadly tribal clashes along the north-south border in the oil-rich Abyei region.  Officials say at least 46 people have been killed in recent days. Control of the disputed Abyei region is one of several issues the north and south must resolve.Nearly 4 million people registered to vote in the referendum.



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