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Bashir Promises to Accept South's Independence Vote

Sudanese President Omar Hassan al-Bashir and General Salva Kiir (L), first vice-president of Sudan and governor of Southern Sudan, is seen at the presidential palace in Khartoum in this video frame grab taken February 7, 2011.

Sudanese President Omar al-Bashir says he accepts southern Sudan's vote to become independent, as officials get set to announce the final results from last month's referendum.

The South Sudan Referendum Commission will confirm late Monday on state radio and television preliminary results that show nearly 99 percent of southern Sudanese voted for succession.

President Bashir and southern Sudanese President Salva Kiir will be present at the announcement in Khartoum - along with U.N. and African Union representatives.

The president said his government will accept and respect the choice of the people of the south.

Hundreds of people began gathering in the blistering heat of the southern capital, Juba, to celebrate the highly-anticipated announcement of their independence.

While last month's vote went off peacefully, tensions began heating up in recent days in the oil-rich border region between the north and the south.

Sudan's military says army infighting related to southern Sudan's anticipated independence has killed more than 50 people, including several civilians and children. Clashes broke out last week, after southern soldiers refused orders to withdraw and redeploy their weapons to the north.

The sides still have a number of issues to resolve before the secession in July, especially the fate of the oil-producing Abyei region, which sits along the north-south border.

The referendum was the center of a 2005 peace deal that ended Sudan's decades-long civil war between the Muslim majority north and mainly Christian and animist south.