Sudan situation fragile, says Hague
The political situation in Sudan remains "fragile", the Foreign Secretary said as voters went to the polls to decide whether the country should split in two.
William Hague said people in the country were not put off from visiting polling stations on the first day of voting while there were signs that president Omar al-Bashir would respect the result.
Mr Hague's comments came after two rebel groups clashed with Southern Sudan's military, resulting in at least nine deaths.
He told Sky News' Murnaghan programme: "There are many things still to be settled but it is remarkable that Sudan has got to this point, and got to this point peacefully.
"I have had an update this morning from our ambassador in Khartoum, who said that polling is brisk, there are queues at the polling stations, people are really taking part in this referendum.
"What we are trying to make sure, along with the rest of the international community, is that it goes ahead peacefully.
"We have sent observers to the referendum, we have encouraged both North and South Sudan to commit themselves to conducting this peacefully, including reacting to the result peacefully.
"We are encouraging the process of negotiation after that, particularly in the event of the people of South Sudan voting for independence, which would be a huge event in Africa and we would need to support them after that event."
He added: "I think we have done everything we can but it will remain a fragile situation. There are UN peacekeepers there doing a important job and we are monitoring the situation very closely."