Text size:

  • Small
  • Normal
  • Large

Early returns in South Sudan show big vote for secession

Almost 96 per cent of the ballots cast in South Sudan's referendum look to be in favour of the region's becoming an independent country, according to observers.

JUBA // Exhausted poll workers posted the first preliminary results from Southern Sudan's week-long independence referendum on Sunday, and an Associated Press count of a small sampling of the returns showed a huge vote for secession.

Sudan's south ended its independence vote yesterday, a vote most everyone believes will split Africa's largest country in two at the divide between Sudan's Muslim north and Christian and animist south. Poll workers counted throughout the night to post results.

An AP review of results at 10 sites in the south's capital of Juba found a 95 per cent turnout and a huge vote for secession. Almost 30,000 ballots were recorded at the 10 sites, and almost 96 per cent of the ballots were for secession. Three per cent were for unity and the rest were invalid.

That is only a small sample of the approximately 3.2 million votes cast, but almost all observers believe the south voted for secession. The referendum needs to pass by a simple majority.

Lonyik Roberts, 31, the lead poll worker at one of the Juba stations, revealing that poll workers have had little to eat the past 24 hours, said: "We are very tired and very hungry. We continued counting throughout the night. We are waiting now for the referendum commission to collect the ballots."

The independence referendum was promised to the south in a peace deal in 2005 that ended more than two decades of north-south civil war in which 2 million people were killed.

If the process stays on track, Southern Sudan is due to become the world's newest country in July.

The UN secretary-general, Ban Ki-moon, praised voters for "the display of wisdom, patience, and peaceful determination that has characterized the voting over the last week."

Mohamed Ibrahim Khalil, the chairman of the south's referendum commission, said 83 per cent of those registered in the south and 53 per cent of those registered in the north had cast their votes. He said there had been a 91 per cent turnout rate among Sudanese voters in eight other countries. Officials had said there were some 3.9 million registered voters.

Mr Khalil said he believed the referendum would be judged as "a good result by any international standard," noting that the commission set up the vote in four months.

Sudan's ruling party in the north said on Friday that it was ready to accept southern independence. Border demarcation, oil rights and the status of the contested region of Abyei still have to be negotiated.

Gonda Keffa, a poll worker at Juba University's polling site, said his team began counting ballots at 8pm last night and finished at 5.30am. today

"We worked throughout the night. That's why you can see we are just feeling giddy," said Mr Keffa, 24.

Back to the top

More articles


Editor's Picks

 Fatema holds a picture of her son Nurul Karim as she poses for a photograph in front of her slum house in Savar. Fatema lost her son Nurul Karim and her daughter Arifa, who were working on the fifth floor of Rana Plaza when it collapsed on April 24, 2013. All photos Andrew Biraj / Reuters

These women know the real price of cheap high street fashion

Survivors of the world's worst garment factory accident, struggle to rebuild their lives from the rubble of the Rana Plaza collapse as Bangladesh prepares to mark the first anniversary of the disaster.

 Supporters of unseen India’s main opposition Bharatiya Janata Party prime ministerial candidate and Chief Minister of the western Indian state of Gujarat, Narendra Modi, wave as he arrives to file his election nomination papers in Varanasi. Sanjay Kanojia / AFP Photo

Best photography from around the world April 24

The National View's photo editors pick the best of the day from around the world

 Iranian workers at the Iran Khodro auto plant in Tehran on March 18. Maryam Rahmanian for The National

Iran’s love of cars survives devastating sanctions

Sanctions and energy subsidy reductions might have hurt the Iranian automotive industry. But car makers at one factory are still optimistic, Yeganeh Salehi reports from Tehran

 Iranian President Hassan Rouhani greeted by university students as he leaves Sistan University in Sistan and Baluchestan’s provincial capital of Zahedan on Tuesday, April 15, 2014. Maryam Rahmanian for The National

In Iran’s most troubled province, Rouhani hears pleas for change

Hassan Rounani aims to connect with residents of far-flung Sistan and Baluchestan province.

 Prince Bandar bin Sultan in Riyadh on March 3, 2007. Hassan Ammar / AFP Photo

Saudi Prince Bandar promised a victory he could not deliver

Saudi Arabia's controversial intelligence chief stepped down this week after rumours that his policies on Syria had fallen out of favour.

 Aiza Tonida puts out laundry amid the ruins of her parents home in Leyte province that was destroyed when Typhoon Haiyan struck central Philippines on November 8, 2013. Joey Reyna for The National

Filipinos seek Middle East jobs to rebuild lives after Haiyan

Work in the GCC seen as only hope for thousands left homeless and jobless after devastating storm in November.

Events

To add your event to The National listings, click here

Get the most from The National