Beshir declared winner in landmark Sudan polls

Beshir declared winner in landmark Sudan polls

"The winner in the election of the president of the republic is Omar Hassan Ahmed al-Beshir from the National Congress Party," chairman of the National Election Commission Abel Alier told reporters in Khartoum.

Beshir won 68 percent of votes, Alier added.

Salva Kiir, leader of the former rebel Sudan People's Liberation Movement, was meanwhile declared winner of the election for president of the semi-autonomous government of south Sudan.

Kiir, a former rebel commander and fervent Christian who is committed to independence from the Khartoum government, won 92.9 percent of the election in the south with 2,616,613 votes, Alier said.

A victory for Beshir had been guaranteed by the withdrawal of his two key challengers in the presidential race: Yasser Arman, a secular Muslim representing the former rebel southern Sudan People's Liberation Movement, and Sadiq al-Mahdi head of the heavyweight Umma party whose government was overthrown by Beshir in a 1989 military coup.

The withdrawals of Arman and Mahdi were announced after the ballot papers were printed, controversially in a state printing press. Southerners voted overwhelmingly for Arman, despite his boycott, according to partial results.

Beshir has been hoping that a landslide victory in the landmark elections would discredit an arrest warrant issued against him by the International Criminal Court in March 2009 for alleged war crimes in the western region of Darfur.

Darfur, an arid region the size of France, has been gripped by a civil war since 2003 when ethnic rebels rose up against the Khartoum government complaining of marginalisation.

The war cost the lives of 300,000 and displaced around 2.7 million, according to the United Nations. Khartoum puts the toll at 10,000.

A senior aide to Beshir, Nafie Ali Nafie, said a victory for Beshir would prove that allegations against him are "false."

"The re-election of Beshir would show beyond doubt that people are refusing these false accusations, they are undermining it, they are not respecting it, particularly Darfurians," Nafie told a group of reporters in Khartoum.

The country's first multi-party elections since 1986 -- where Sudanese were voting for their president, legislative and local representatives -- was marred by the opposition boycott, accusations of fraud and logistical delays which complicated the voting process and the announcement of results.

International observers from the European Union and the Carter Centre -- headed by former US President Jimmy Carter-- said after the five-day vote ended on April 15 that the election had failed to reach international standards.

EU observers said the south particularly saw "a less controlled environment leading to more confusion, clashes and intimidation."

South Sudan is scheduled to hold a referendum in January 2011 on whether it wants to break away from the north or remain part of a united Sudan.