It looks like South Sudan already has the necessary votes in hand to secede from Sudan and become the planet’s 195th country. Some regions are showing 99% of the vote for secession. What will follow after certification is a five-month process that eventually will lead to independence, no sooner than July. This is a great victory for the South Sudanese people (or whatever name they plan to come up with). But among the many outstanding issues includes the status of the troubled Abyei region:

ABYEI, Sudan — As Southern Sudanese went to vote earlier this month in a referendum that’s likely to establish Africa’s newest nation, hundreds of militiamen from the Arab north launched an attack near the town of Abyei that killed dozens of combatants from the African south.

If anyone had known the full details about the three-day clash in this enclave on the future north-south border, it might have brought the celebration to a halt. But this small region, which straddles much of Sudan’s oil wealth and was excluded from the main referendum, is way off the beaten path — and no one wanted to talk [...]

The fighting in the Abyei region — along with the relative silence that greeted it — serves as a stark reminder of how precarious peace remains in Africa’s largest country after 50 years of war that left more than 2 million dead.

Although official results of the southern referendum won’t be released until next month, limited results from around the region show that the tally for secession most likely will be above 95 percent. International observers have declared that the referendum was free and fair. Legally, full independence for Southern Sudan should follow on July 9.

Abyei was supposed to vote last week, too, in its own referendum on which side to join. Yet this vote never occurred.

This is basically the border region, and where it ends up could lead to more fighting and chaos. Not to mention the other region that’s not involved in the independence vote at all – Darfur. That will remain in Sudan’s hands, and while violence has dropped from its historic highs, at least 2,300 died in Darfur throughout 2010. The vote in southern Sudan could give the north cover to step up attacks on Darfur. That region still knows no peace.