OPPOSITION IN SUDAN SAY ELECTIONS RIGGED

KHARTOUM - Sudanese President Omar Hassan al-Bashir scored overwhelming victories in a sample of results from national elections marred by fraud accusations and boycotts, state media reported yesterday.

KHARTOUM - Sudanese President Omar Hassan al-Bashir scored overwhelming victories in a sample of results from national elections marred by fraud accusations and boycotts, state media reported yesterday.

Both European Union and Carter Centre observers have said last week's elections did not meet international standards, but stopped short of echoing opposition allegations of widespread rigging.

The polls, set up under a 2005 peace deal that ended two decades of north-south civil war, were supposed to help transform the troubled oil-producing nation into a democracy.

Al-Bashir won between 70percent and 92percent of votes cast in around 35 scattered polling centres, foreign voting posts and one state. The figures have not been confirmed by the National Elections Commission and represent a fraction of the country.

A senior official from Al-Bashir's dominant National Congress Party said he was expecting similar results across Sudan. "This victory is a real victory ... The counting of the votes took place under the sun, not in a dark room. The observers saw everything," Rabie Abdelati said.

Opposition groups said the huge majorities proved their accusations that the NCP had rigged the vote in the north, justifying the decision of many of them to boycott.

"This proves what we said: that this election is false from A to Z," said Farouk Abu Issa, spokesperson for a loose coalition of opposition groups.

"If he thinks that being re-elected by a big majority will protect him from the International Criminal Court, he is mistaken."

Analysts say Al-Bashir is keen to win a convincing victory to legitimise his rule and fend off International Criminal Court charges that he masterminded war crimes during the running seven-year conflict in Sudan's western Darfur region.

Al-Bashir was likely to win after most of his main rivals, including candidates from the opposition Umma party and south Sudan's dominant Sudan People's Liberation Movement, pulled out of the race alleging fraud.

The National Elections Commission delayed issuing official results but said it was due to begin yesterday.

Election officials in south Sudan said results might be delayed until tomorrow, the official deadline for announcements. - Reuters

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