Sudan poll 'does not meet global standards'

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The Independent Online

Sudan's first multi-party elections in 24 years did not meet all international standards, European Union observers said today in the first authoritative judgment on the poll.

Final results of the presidential and legislative polls are due on Tuesday, and President Omar Hassan al-Bashir is widely expected to win, most of his rivals having boycotted the proceedings, accusing his ruling party of fraud.



"These elections have struggled to reach international standards. They have not reached them all," the head of the EU observer mission in Sudan, Veronique de Keyser, told reporters.



De Keyser said that, especially in the oil-producing south, there had been cases of harassment and intimidation of voters "which has nothing to do with a democratic process".



She praised the enthusiasm of voters and said opposition parties had been free to voice complaints throughout the process.



Opposition groups and many local observers have accused Bashir's dominant northern National Congress Party (NCP) of rigging preparations for the poll, and said there were huge logistical problems, with names missing from voters' lists.



The elections were set up under a 2005 peace deal that ended more than two decades of north-south war and also promised southerners a 2011 referendum on whether they should split off and become an independent country.



The elections as a whole were marred by complexity and confusion and dominated by the ruling parties in the north and south, said a copy of the EU preliminary report seen by Reuters.



"The election process suffered from unprecedented complexity in its design and consequently from confusion in its implementation," the report said.



The boycotts of northern polls had reduced competition in northern Sudan while in the south "a less controlled environment (led) to more confusion, clashes and intimidation."



The European Union has deployed around 140 long and short-term observers across Sudan. The US Carter Centre is due to give its preliminary findings later today.

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