Ban Ki-moon has welcomed the end of the week-long polling period for the Southern Sudan referendum, calling on the Sudanese to show patience and restraint for the final result, said a statement issued Saturday.
The statement, issued by his spokesperson, said the secretary- general commended the work of the Southern Sudan Referendum Commission in Khartoum and its Bureau in Juba, and of the two parties to the Comprehensive Peace Agreement (CPA), Xinhua reported.
He extended his gratitude to all donor countries whose contribution has facilitated the process and his appreciation to the observer groups that traveled throughout Sudan and overseas to assess the situation, it said.
The Jan. 9 to 15 vote determined whether the south remains part of Sudan or chooses independence, and is part of the 2005 CPA that ended the long-running north-south civil war.
Sixty percent of the nearly 4 million voters registered to take part in the referendum have to vote for the outcome to be valid.
"The Secretary-General congratulates all the people of Sudan for the display of wisdom, patience, and peaceful determination that has characterized the voting over the last week," said the statement.
"He calls on the people and institutions of Sudan to exercise patience and restraint until the Southern Sudan Referendum Commission announces the final result of the referendum," it said.
Preliminary results for the South Sudan referendum are expected to be announced by Feb. 2 and depending on whether appeals are submitted to courts or not, the final result will be declared on Feb. 7 or 14.