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IGAD Says Sudan Election 'Credible' Despite EU Comments

The Intergovernmental Authority on Development has said Sudan's election was credible. Selah Hennessy spoke to Mahmoud Maalim, director of the East African organization, of which Sudan is a member, and brings VOA this report.

Mahmoud Maalim says the 37 observers sent to Sudan by his organization, the Intergovernmental Authority on Development, known by the acronym IGAD, witnessed democratic elections.

"The election was credible and of course we are qualifying our credibility factor by all the challenges that were evident," said Maalim.

Voting ended Thursday and ballots are still being counted in the country's first multi-party presidential, parliamentary, and local election in 24 years. On Saturday, international observers from the European Union and The Carter Center said the elections failed to meet international standards because of widespread problems.

Some opposition groups have accused the ruling party of trying to rig the vote, and several parties boycotted in parts of the country.

Maalim says there were problems, including polling stations opening late and a lack of secrecy when people cast their vote. But, he says, observers cannot judge Sudan's election by international standards. "These are challenges that we see in almost all the electoral processes that is done in this part of the world and there are infrastructural challenges everywhere," he added.

African Union observers have described the election as "free and fair".

Sudan's election was set up as part of a 2005 peace deal that brought to an end a civil war that lasted more than two decades. The peace deal also set the stage for a referendum due to take place in 2011 in which south Sudan will decide whether to become a separate country.

Maalim says this election has paved the way for the referendum to run smoothly. "If the tallying process ends and President Bashir is announced the winner of this presidential election, we will be eager to do with his government, working out details about what should be done in preparation for the possible referendum and a possible referendum scenario," he added.

Current President Omar al-Bashir has been charged by the International Criminal Court with alleged war crimes in Sudan's Darfur region.

He has been in power since a 1989 coup and is widely expected to be re-elected. The results of the vote were set to be made public Tuesday, but Sudan's national election commission has said it may be delayed.