Africa

Sudan ends referendum voter registration

South Sudanese register to vote in Khartoum. 8 Dec 2010
Image caption Registration took place in Khartoum for southerners living in the north

Voter registration has ended in Sudan for January's referendum on possible southern independence.

The registration period, which had been delayed several times, is a key step towards the vote.

Southerners are widely expected to choose to form a new country, having fought two civil wars with the north.

Exact figures will not be known for a few days, as statistics trickle in from remote areas of Southern Sudan, one of the world's least developed places.

Nearly three million people had registered in the south by Tuesday.

However, the figure given for southerners living in the north was just over 105,000, fewer than had been anticipated.

Some people left Khartoum and other northern cities to go to the south to register.

Others said they were afraid the north would manipulate their vote, so they did not register at all.

Tensions have been growing as the referendum draws nearer.

Former rebels in Southern Sudan have accused the north of bombing their territory on several occasions.

Northern armed forces have denied all the accusations.

Critical negotiations on post-referendum issues - and on Abyei, the border area due to have its own referendum - are not making much progress.

An estimated two million people died in the last north-south civil war which ended in 2005. But both sides insist a return to conflict is out of the question.

The referendum is scheduled for 9 January.