14 Jan 2011

Referendum turnout said to be now higher than required

8:17 am on 14 January 2011

The ruling party in South Sudan says a referendum on secession from the north has reached the 60% turnout needed to pass.

The Sudan Peoples' Liberation Movement did not give exact figures, but said it was based on polling centre reports for the first three days of the week-long vote, which began on Sunday.

The poll is part of a deal in 2005 to end a two-decade civil war.

The SPLM has been running the region since the peace agreement.

Official turnout figures and the preliminary result are not expected until the beginning of February from the South Sudan Referendum Commission.

The commission also said on Wednesday it expected the vote to exceed the 60% mark.

Voting is from 9-15 January. The referendum must be a 60% turnout, plus a straightforward majority in favour, in order to pass.

Sudan is the largest country in Africa.