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|January 16, 2011|
A 50 percent majority must vote for separation to fulfill the second requirement for independence.
Several thousand observers from Sudan and abroad monitored the vote.
The African Union issued a preliminary report saying it found the vote to be free and credible, and a true reflection of the will of the Southern Sudanese people.
Sudan's President Omar al-Bashir visited the region before the referendum and said his government would accept the results.
If confirmed, the new state is expected to emerge in six months, when the Comprehensive Political Agreement between north and south is due to expire.The accord, signed six years ago, ended two decades of civil war and paved the way for the referendum.
But many issues remain to be resolved. These include border demarcation, the division of oil revenues and external debt payments and the future of the Abyei region where clashes last week killed several dozen people.