Regional results will be added to those of southerners who voted in the north or in eight countries of the diaspora [AFP]

South Sudan has won the majority of votes needed in order to become the world's newest state, with just 60 per cent of results declared from a landmark referendum.

Preliminary figures collated by the AFP news agency on Thursday indicated that some areas of Sudan returned 99 per cent landslides for independence.

According to AFP, at least 2,224,857 votes for a separation of the mainly Christian, African south from the mainly Muslim, Arab north had been counted from the previous night.

A simple majority of 1.89 million votes was needed from a total of 3,932,588 registered voters.

In Lakes state, which carried a rebel stronghold during a devastating 1983-2005 civil war with the north, 99.9 per cent of votes were cast in support of independence.

In Central Equatoria, which includes the regional capital Juba and is the south's second most populous state, 98.2 per cent of the 457,452 votes cast were for secession.

In Juba, which is now poised to become south Sudan's national capital, cheers and applause rang out as the head of the county's referendum sub-committee announced a 97.5-per cent majority for independence.

The final result that will set south Sudan on the path to recognition as the world's newest state in July is not expected before next month.

First, the state results must be collated at regional level and added to those of southerners who voted in the north or in eight countries of the diaspora.

Aleu Garang Aleu, a spokesman for the Southern Sudanese Referendum Bureau, which is running the vote in the south, said: "We are being methodical to make sure all the rules are respected and that takes time, of course."

Source: Agencies