Khartoum, Sudan(PANA) - Voting centres across the Sudan closed on Saturday with over 90 percent of registered southerners in the south against over 50 percent in the north, sealing the validity of the result to be announced officially in February.
Indications show that southerners have overwhelmingly voted for secession although the law says only 60 percent are needed to make the result valid.
The Chairman of the Southern Sudan Referendum Commission, Professor Mohamed Ibrahim Khalil, told the press in Juba, capital of southern Sudan where he flew to witness the last stages of the voting, that by the end of the fifth day 91.1% of registered southerners had come to the voting booth to cast their ballots, while in the north 53% of the registered southerners had dipped their index in the ink bottle, a prerequisite process proving that they voted.
The official Sudan News Agency, reporting from all corners of the country, said all centres closed by 19 hours local time, starting at 18 hours in far eastern Sudan and ending at 17 hours in the troubled Darfur region, in the continental Sudan.
“This percentage will of course increase when the final additions are made of the last hour rush," Khalil said.
With a few centres leaking the outcome of the vote in northern Sudan, it was clear by Saturday's closing date that even in the north a sizeable percentage of southerners had voted for secession, the preliminary result of which will be made public on the 31 January and the final result on 7 February.
The referendum is the last chapter in the Comprehensive Peace Agreement (CPA), signed in 2005 and which put an end to the civil war between the north and the south.
The outcome of the referendum will decide whether Sudan will remain united or split into two nations.
The commission had earlier said a total of 3,932,588 registered for the referendum. This means that if 2,359,553 cast their votes then the threshold for the referendum will be deemed legal.
Southerners number about 8.2 million of the country's 39.4 million.
-0- PANA MO/VAO 16Jan2011