Sudanese Diaspora In Europe Vote For Secession

The first official count of Sudan's referendum has been announced, with the country's diaspora in Europe overwhelmingly voting for secession. Voters cheered as the results declared that more than 97% of the 640 voters had been in favour of a new state.

(BBC)

The first official count of Sudan's referendum has been announced, with the country's diaspora in Europe overwhelmingly voting for secession.

Voters celebrated as the result was announcedVoters cheered as the results declared that more than 97% of the 640 voters had been in favour of a new state.

The referendum was part of a peace agreement signed with north Sudan in 2005, ending decades of war.

Full results of the vote - which ended on Saturday after a week-long poll - are not expected until next month.

The vote is widely expected to see the south choose for separation from the north.

'Dancing'

In a hall opposite parliament in London where the count was taking place, votes were held up one by one and placed in piles: Secession, Unity, Unmarked or Invalid.

An election official shows an independence ballot as votes are tallied at a polling station in Juba, in Southern Sudan, on Saturday.

Voters had made an often long and expensive journey to Britain to exercise their choice.

Finally, just before midnight, the official in charge of the polling station, Federico Vuni, read out the results.

"I hereby announce the results of this polling station in the referendum of (on) the future status of Sudan," he said.

Turnout for the referendum is expected to be huge when official figures are announced

"Number of invalid ballots: zero; number of unmarked ballots: one; number of votes for unity: 13; number of votes for secession: 626".

Men and women embraced, they danced, they waved the flag of the Sudan People's Liberation Army (SPLA) - the rebel movement that had fought so long for this moment.

If this result is any indication of the wider southern Sudanese community, it will not be long before Sudan is divided - and a new state emerges in the south.

The great divide across Sudan is visible even from space, as this Nasa satellite image shows. The northern states are a blanket of desert, broken only by the fertile Nile corridor. Southern Sudan is covered by green swathes of grassland, swamps and tropical forest.

BBC