Southern Sudan referendum: 'Massive vote to split'. BBC News
Southern Sudan referendum: 'Massive vote to split'
With most votes counted in Southern Sudan's referendum, 99% of people have opted for independence from the north, officials say.
Official results are due next month but correspondents say the outcome of the week-long poll is not in doubt.
However, the former rebels now running oil-rich Southern Sudan have urged people not to celebrate yet.
President Omar al-Bashir has said he will accept the result of the vote, which was held after years of war.
The BBC's Peter Martell in Juba says this is the news many in the south have been waiting to hear - that the number of votes cast in favour of independence has passed the required 50%.
The results were published on a website published by the Southern Sudan Referendum Commission, and officials have confirmed they are genuine.
It says that 83% of votes in the south have been counted, along with 100% of those in the north and the eight foreign countries where polling was held.
Just 1.4% of people have voted for continued unity with the north.
More than 3m ballots have been counted so far, with several hundred thousands still to come.
Southern Sudan Referendum Bureau spokesman Aleu Garang Aleu said counting should be finished on 31 January and final results announced on 14 February, after any appeals had been dealt with.
Our correspondent says southern leaders are waiting for these results to be declared and accepted by the north before the giant party being planned begins.
If the result is confirmed, the new country is set to formally declare its independence on 9 July.
The mainly Arabic-speaking, Muslim north has fought the south, where most are Christian or follow traditional religions, for most of Sudan's post-independence history.
In order for the referendum to be valid, more than 50% of voters must back secession and at least 60% of registered voters must take part.
Election officials have previously said that the 60% threshold had been passed.