By Ria Novosti
A referendum on South Sudan independence from the north of the country ended on Saturday, a RIA Novosti correspondent reported.
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 Saturday at 15:00 GMT .
The Sudanese voted on a referendum to either remain as a unified state or divide the largest African nation of around 44 million people into two states.
The turnout of voters in the South exceeded 83%, while in the north it reached some 53%.
The preliminary results of the referendum in 10 provinces of the South Sudan are expected to be announced on January 31, and in the whole country and abroad are expected on February 2.
The final results are expected to be revealed on February 6, if no participants fill complaints over possible violations.
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. Most of the Southerners voted to gain independence.
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.