More than 99% of electors in South Sudan voted to separate from the north in a referendum intended to put an end to decades of civil war in the country, the chairman of the national election commission said on Sunday, citing preliminary results.
"The number of votes cast in southern provinces in favor of the separation of the South amounted to 99.57%," Mohamed Khalil Ibrahim said.
In the country's North, as many as 77% of the electors voted for the independence of the South, Khalil said.
The final results of the referendum will be announced in mid-February.
The Sudanese referendum, which may lead to Africa's largest nation of around 44 million people splitting into two independent states, began on January 9. The vote, which was monitored by more than 20,000 observers and over 1,000 journalists from around the world, ended on January 15.
The 1983-2005 civil war in Sudan killed an estimated 2 million people and caused significant displacement of the different ethnic groups in the country.
The majority of Southern Sudanese belong to various culture and language tribes, however, most speak Arabic as do their Northern neighbors.
Southern Sudan's vast oil deposits have long made its independence an issue of concern in the North. However, the official Sudanese government has pledged to recognize the results of the referendum regardless of its outcome.
KHARTOUM, January 30 (RIA Novosti)