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Landslide Swells for Southern Sudan Independence

Southern Sudan Referendum Commission staff members prepare the official counting of votes on South Sudanese independence from the north at the Armed Forces Club polling center in El Fasher, north Darfur, 15 Jan 2011.

Three southern Sudanese states and the region's capital city have voted for independence by a landslide, according to full provisional results released Wednesday.

Referendum organizers in the southern capital of Juba say 97.5 percent of voters there vote to separate from the north.

Officials say more than 90 percent of voters chose to secede in the southern states of Unity, Lakes and Western Bahr al-Ghazal.

Full results are pending in seven other states, and all the tallies must still be officially finalized.

Millions of southern Sudanese voted last week in a referendum separating their region from northern Sudan. The regions fought a 21-year civil war that ended in 2005.

International poll observers have described the referendum as transparent, free and fair.

Preliminary results will officially be announced on January 31. Final results are expected on February 14.

An official of northern Sudan's ruling National Congress Party says he expects the south to become an independent country once the referendum results are official.

Rabi Abdelati Obeid told VOA Wednesday, the NCP is ready to accept and recognize the vote result, even if it is secession.

Obeid also said he believes his party's commitment towards the referendum should convince U.S. President Barack Obama's administration to honor its promises of normalizing relations with Khartoum, and taking Sudan off the list of state sponsors of terrorism.