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UN chief welcomes end of polling in Southern Sudan's referendum on self-determination

Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon today welcomed the end of the polling period for the referendum on the self-determination of Southern Sudan, and congratulated the people for their patience and peaceful determination to cast their ballots, which characterized voting over the past week.

Mr. Ban commended the work of the Southern Sudan Referendum Commission (SSRC) in Khartoum and its Bureau in Juba, Southern Sudan's capital, and of the two parties to the 2005 Comprehensive Peace Agreement (CPA) that ended two decades of civil war between northern and southern Sudan.

He extended his gratitude to all donor countries whose contributions facilitated the referendum process and voiced his appreciation of the work of observer groups that travelled throughout Sudan and overseas to assess the situation.

The Secretary-General “calls on the people and institutions of Sudan to exercise patience and restraint until the Southern Sudan Referendum Commission announces the final result of the referendum,” said a statement issued by his spokesperson.

The outcome of the 9 to 15 January vote will determine whether the south remains part of Sudan or chooses independence. Sixty per cent of the nearly 4 million registered voters have to cast their ballots for the result to be valid.

According to SSRC, preliminary results are expected to be announced by 2 February and, depending on whether appeals are submitted to courts or not, the final result on whether Southern Sudan secedes and becomes the UN's 193rd Member State or remains part of a united Sudan will be declared on 7 or 14 February.

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