News ID: 3871
Publish Date: 16 January 2011 - 09:41
Vote counting has started in southern Sudan following the end of a week-long landmark referendum in the region on secession from the north.
The last of the voters cast their ballots on Saturday and polling stations finally shut the doors on south Sudan's week-long vote on whether to split the largest African country in two.

International observers say voter turnout could reach 90 percent, claiming that most people have voted for secession. They also add that the poll was largely orderly and peaceful.

The vote caps a 2005 peace agreement, brokered by the African Union and the United Nations, which ended decades of civil war between Sudan's north and southern parts.

Sudan's President Omar Hassan al-Bashir has said the divisions between the two regions are the legacy of the former colonial power, Britain.

Bashir has also warned that south Sudan would face instability in the wake of a possible secession.

"The south suffers from many problems. It's been at war since 1959," the Sudanese president said.

"The south does not have the ability to provide for its citizens or create a state or authority," he further explained.

Last Saturday, at least 25 people were killed and many more injured in clashes between fighters from two rival tribes in the Abyei region of southern Sudan ahead of the historic referendum.

The United States and the European Union have been campaigning for years to split the major African country, voicing support for the secession of the oil-rich, mainly Christian south.
 
The effort has openly promoted racism as well as sectarianism, claiming rivalries between Arabs versus Africans and Christians against Muslims.

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