Abyei residents choose S. Sudan in vote

Oct 31, 2013, 9:14 AM EDT

JUBA, South Sudan (AP) — In an unofficial vote, residents of a disputed area between Sudan and South Sudan said they want to join South Sudan.

The outcome, announced Wednesday, is no surprise since the residents who voted beginning Sunday are aligned with South Sudan. Zachariah Deng Majok, a member of the Abyei Referendum High Committee, said more than 99 percent of votes went for South Sudan.

Both Sudan and South Sudan claim ownership of oil-rich Abyei, whose status was unresolved after South Sudan became independent from Sudan in 2011.

The region's majority Ngok Dinka people favor South Sudan. The Sudan-allied Misseriya nomads, who come to Abyei to find pasture for their cattle, were not allowed to vote.

An African Union panel proposed a referendum for Abyei but there was disagreement over who could vote.