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Sudan Pushes Back Elections Another 2 Months


Sudan has pushed back its elections to April 2010, an additional two month delay for the vote that was originally scheduled for this month. The election is a core part of the 2005 peace agreement between north and south Sudan and will be the nation's first democratic election in more than 20 years.

The elections commission's decision to delay the vote marks the second such postponement announced in three months. The commission first pushed the vote back to February 2010.

Election officials cited the delayed release of census results and the decision to push back voter registration until after the rainy season as the causes for the postponement. The commission has the sole power to set the election timetable.

No major parties in the south or the north appeared to seek the election delay. According to reports, neither side has yet expressed major concern over the commission's action.

The census figures, which are important for determining constituencies in the elections, are the cause of disagreement between north Sudan and south Sudan.

The census listed 520,000 south Sudanese as living in the north. It also listed south Sudan as holding 21 percent of the total population. Southerners contend they represent one-third of the nation's population.

Azaia Schol, president of the Sudan Census Commission, was surprised that the census was cited as a main reason for postponing the vote. The census was released in May a month and a half behind schedule.

"The delay of the census could be one factor, but there could be other factors," said Azaia Schol. "For the extension of the election from February to April, I don't know whether it is connected with the census results or not."

Current president Omar Hassan al-Bashir is expected to seek to retain his seat in the national elections. In March Mr. Bashir was indicted by the International Criminal Court for alleged war crimes in Darfur. No other major presidential candidates have officially announced their candidacy.

Along with the national elections, the 2005 peace agreement also stipulated a January 2011 referendum on southern Sudan independence. South Sudan's President Salva Kiir announced this week that Libyan leader Moammar Gadhafi has pledged to support south Sudan if it chooses independence.

Last week the U.S. hosted leaders from north and south Sudan to discuss continued disagreements over the peace deal.

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