Rebels agree to accept vote results

KHARTOUM - Sudan's ruling National Congress Party and former southern rebels agreed on Tuesday to accept the results of last week's elections, following US accusations that the polls were not free and fair.

Second Vice-president Ali Osman Taha, of President Omar al-Bashir's NCP, consented to abide by electoral commission decisions at talks with Salva Kiir, head of the southern former rebels Sudan People's Liberation Movement (SPLM).

"We agreed to accept the results as announced by the national election commission and to respect (its) decisions," Taha said in a statement carried by state television.

Ballots in Sudan's first multi-party electoral contest since 1986 are still being counted.

Some 16 million registered voters had been asked to choose their president, legislative and local representatives. Southerners also voted for the leader of their autonomous government.

Bashir was expected to easily win another term after the withdrawal of his key rivals, but legislative and local polls remained fiercely competitive in many parts of Africa's biggest country.

Yasser Arman, the SPLM's candidate for president before he pulled out, was at the meeting between Taha and Kiir despite having accused the NCP on Monday of preparing to rig the elections in Blue Nile state on the north-south boundary.

The two sides also agreed to speed up the implementation of the 2005 Comprehensive Peace Agreement that ended a decades-long civil war between the north and south, particularly the border demarcation issue, Taha said.

The border issue is crucial ahead of a referendum scheduled for next year on the south's independence. - Sapa-AFP

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