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South Sudan wants 1.5 mil. people to return before vote

JUBA, Sudan -- The government of Southern Sudan wants 1.5 million southerners who fled to the country's north during the country's long civil war to return home before a crucial referendum that could split the oil-rich south from the north.

The return of so many southern voters could help the referendum gain additional support if those southerners are not allowed to vote while living in the north. A commission is currently deadlocked on whether to allow such votes. But a southern official denied the plans to return southerners are linked to the January vote and said they are motivated by humanitarian concerns.

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