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99% of Southern Sudanese Vote for Independence

Southern Sudan Referendum Commission staff members during the official counting of votes on South Sudanese independence, 16 Jan 2011

Results from southern Sudan's landmark referendum show nearly 99 percent of voters supporting regional independence.

The results, posted on the referendum commission's website Sunday, show just 45,000 voters out of 3.8 million voting for continued unity with the north.

The commission said the results are provisional but noted that vote counting is virtually complete. Results are due to be validated in early February.

The referendum was part of the 2005 peace deal that ended Sudan's north-south civil war.

Officials from northern Sudan have indicated they will accept the results, and southern Sudan is expected to declare independence later this year.

However, the two sides still have to work out issues involving borders, waters, oil revenue, and the fate of the oil-producing Abyei region.

Abyei was supposed to hold a separate referendum this month on whether to join the north or south. But the poll was never held because of disputes on who would be eligible to vote.