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Forum and wire reports, Published January 10 2011

Sudanese decide country’s future

At least 30 Sudanese from the Fargo area made the 400-mile trek to Omaha this past weekend to vote in a global referendum that will determine the fate of their home country.

Thousands of people began casting ballots Sunday in Sudan and elsewhere during a weeklong vote that will determine if South Sudan will secede from the North.

The war-ravaged African nation has been plagued by decades of civil war, leaving 2 million people dead.

Many of the 1 million southerners who fled the region because of the violence voted elsewhere.

Polling sites were set up in eight American cities, where voters included some of the 3,800 war orphans, known as the Lost Boys of Sudan.

Mathor Wan of Fargo was among those to vote Sunday at the polling site in Omaha.

Mathor said he voted in favor of secession, which he hopes will bring peace to his home country.

“Lives have been shattered by the war between the North and the South,” Mathor said. “(This vote) means we can begin a new life and live a life just like any other country that is enjoying peace, which (we) have never experienced before.”

“This vote is the only chance we have to determine our future,” Mathor added. “It means peace. It means no more war. It means giving new life for these people.”

About 3.9 million people registered to vote. A simple majority must vote for separation for the referendum to pass, but 60 percent of registered voters must cast ballots for the vote to be valid.

Results will trickle in after polls close Saturday, but results won’t be finalized until February.

Forum reporter Kristen Daum contributed to this report