April 19, 2010 / 6:28 AM / 9 years ago

Sudan state media report Bashir poll lead

KHARTOUM (Reuters) - 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 on Sunday.

Sudan's President Omar Hassan al-Bashir casts his ballot at a polling station in Khartoum April 11, 2010. REUTERS/Ahmed Jadallah

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

The presidential and legislative 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.

Bashir won between 70-92 percent of votes cast in presidential ballots in around 35 scattered polling centres, foreign voting posts and one state, said state news agency Suna.

Those figures represent a fraction of the country and have not been confirmed by authorities.

Separately, Sudan’s National Elections Commission began to announce the first official results of the contest on Sunday — 17 state assembly seats from north Sudan all of which went to Bashir’s National Congress Party (NCP) with massive majorities.

Senior NCP official Rabie Abdelati told Reuters 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,” he said.

Opposition groups said the huge majorities proved their accusations that the NCP had fiddled with ballot boxes in the north, justifying the decision of many parties to boycott. They say they caught officials exchanging and stuffing ballot boxes at night during the five-day voting process.

WAR CRIMES

“This proves what we said: that this election is false from A to Z. It was planned from the beginning,” said Farouk Abu Issa, spokesman 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 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 seven-year conflict in Sudan’s western Darfur region.

African Union observers said they rated the process “six out of 10”, adding it was unfair to compare post conflict Sudan to international standards. Sudanese civil society observers were much harsher, urging non recognition of the results.

“We believe that the voters of Sudan were unable to freely express their will and select their respresentatives,” three networks representing 3,500 local observers said in a statement.

Bashir was always likely to win the presidency after most of his main rivals, including candidates from the opposition Umma party and south Sudan’s dominant Sudan People’s Liberation Movement (SPLM), pulled out of the race alleging fraud.

The president of Sudan’s semi-autonomous south and SPLM leader Salva Kiir is also likely to win the vote to keep his job, maintaining the status quo as the country prepares for a referendum on southern secession in January 2011.

Both the current elections and the looming referendum were promised under the 2005 peace deal.

According to Suna, Sudanese expatriates overwhelmingly supported Bashir in polling centres set up in Libya, Oman, Egypt, Qatar, Kuwait and the United Arab Emirates, with majorities of between 77 and 92 percent.

The state agency said Bashir had secured 90 per cent of the votes for the presidency in the country’s Northern State.

At one voting station in Khartoum’s notorious Kober prison, Suna added, Bashir won 851 out of 1,234 votes.

Officials in the south warned there might be some delays in counting results.

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