Southern Sudanese people living in Australia first to vote in independence referendum

14:00, January 09, 2011      

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More than 9,000 Southern Sudanese people living in Australia began casting votes on Sunday in a historic referendum expected to see the war-ravaged south of Africa's largest country emerge as a new nation.

The southern part of Africa's largest country, Sudan is expected to break away and form the world's newest country following the independence referendum.

In recent years, Australia has accepted thousands of Sudanese refugees and has a population of around 30,000 southern Sudanese, of whom some 9,000 are expected to vote.

Five polling stations around Australia opens from Sunday until next Saturday, January 15, and Southern Sudanese people living in Australia are the first in the world to cast their votes in the referendum.

According to Southern Sudan Government Mission Liaison Office located in Canberra of Australia, the people of southern Sudan will choose to confirm the unity of Sudan or vote for the secession of southern Sudan and become an independent nation.

"Sudan has seen some of Africa's bloodiest wars. More than three million southern Sudanese have been killed in two civil wars between the South and the North," liaison officer Mariano Ngor said in a statement released on Sunday.

"If we can achieve peace after so much suffering and bloodshed, we will be setting an example that could be followed in other troubled parts of Africa."

Ngor said thousands of people are currently embarking on a pilgrimage to their southern homeland in anticipation of their nation splitting.

The vote was organized by the International Organization for Migration under a 2005 peace agreement. If, as expected the vote is for independence, the south will become a new country shortly after an interim period ends on July 9.

Source: Xinhua
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