US faults Sudan election but will work with victors
By Arshad Mohammed
WASHINGTON (Reuters) - The United States said on Monday Sudan's elections were neither free nor fair but it will deal with the victors to try to settle internal disputes before a referendum that could bring independence to southern Sudan.
Early results from the election, the oil-producing nation's first in 24 years, suggest President Omar Hassan al-Bashir and his party are headed for a strong win in presidential and parliamentary polls marred by boycotts and alleged fraud.
Bashir, who is wanted by the International Criminal Court in The Hague to face charges of war crimes in Darfur, scored majorities of up to 90 percent in a sample of results from northern Sudan reported by state media.
"This was not a free and fair election," said State Department spokesman P.J. Crowley. "It did not, broadly speaking, meet international standards."
"That said, I think we recognize that the election is a very important step" toward carrying out a 2005 peace deal that gave the south autonomy, a share of oil revenues and a route to independence via referendum by January 2011, he told reporters.
The so-called Comprehensive Peace Agreement was designed to end a 22-year civil war between the Arab-dominated government in Khartoum in Sudan's mostly Muslim north and the largely Christian and animist south.
"EMERGENCE OF A NEW COUNTRY"
Crowley said many of those elected in the Sudanese poll, however flawed it may have been, would play important roles in whether "we have a credible referenda process that, quite honestly, is likely to yield the emergence of a new country." Continued...