Bashir wins boycotted election

President Omar Hassan al-Bashir has won Sudan's first open elections in 24 years in a result that confirms in office the only sitting head of state wanted by the International Criminal Court for war crimes.

Mr Bashir won 68 per cent of the presidential vote, while Salva Kiir retained his job as President of Sudan's semi-autonomous South, with 93 per cent of the vote in that race, Sudan's National Elections Commission announced.

After a vote that outside observers said fell short of global standards, Mr Bashir is expected to form a coalition with Mr Kiir as the country heads toward a 2011 referendum on whether South Sudan should split off. Mr Bashir had hoped a win in legitimate polls would help him defy the ICC warrant, in which he is accused of ordering a campaign of murder, torture and rape in Darfur.

But the polls intended to mark Sudan's transformation into a democratic state were marred by widespread charges of fraud, suggesting the new ruling coalition will be a fragile one.

Mr Bashir appeared on television soon after the result saying the Sudanese people "have achieved this moral victory before the eyes of the world in a civilised, high-class manner". He added that Sudan would hold the southern referendum "as scheduled". Many southerners fear Mr Bashir will try to disrupt the plebiscite in an effort to keep control of the South's oil.

Mr Bashir's victory was dismissed by opposition parties which earlier boycotted the vote. "They cooked the figures ," the UMMA Reform and Renewal Party leader Mubarak al-Fadil said. "[Mr Bashir's] campaign was conducted under a one-party system with all the foundations of a police state.... It was a farce." REUTERS

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