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Optimism surrounds Sudan referendum vote

U.S. officials expressed confidence on Wednesday that the upcoming Sudan independence referendum will bring positive, peaceful results as many anticipate that the South will secede.

According to the Associated Free Press, the North has traditionally been hostile toward southern independence but has promised to peacefully accept the vote taking place January 9 through 15. The decision will determine the outcome of a 22-year-long civil war and is ordained by a 2005 peace agreement.

If the South secedes, the U.S. has promised to recognize the new nation and help it build up its infrastructure, water, health, education and agriculture industries, the news source reports.

If the vote does go over smoothly, it will relieve aid workers and organizations that have been working overtime to meet the needs of returnees and refugees. Aid groups told CNN on Wednesday that the influx of southerners coming home to vote is pressurizing the already limited supply of food and water.

At least 106,000 southerners have returned in the past three months, the news source reports.
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