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Bashir Far Ahead in Early Sudan Election Results

Early election results in Sudan show President Omar al-Bashir heading toward an overwhelming victory as expected.

Reports from Sudanese news agencies show Mr. Bashir winning at least 90 percent of the vote in many areas, and 97 percent in northern Kassala state.

Mr. Bashir was widely forecast to win after his two main opponents from the Umma Party and the southern Sudan People's Liberation Movement withdrew from the presidential race. Those parties and others accuse the government and the NCP of conspiring to rig the vote.

The polls last week were Sudan's first multi-party elections in 24 years.

In a joint statement Monday, the United States, Britain and Norway said they have "serious concerns" about logistical problems and reported irregularities during the voting.
The three Western nations called on Sudan's election commission to address any election disputes effectively and impartially.

Election observers have given a mixed assessment of the Sudanese elections. African Union observers have declared the elections "free and fair," while monitors from the European Union and the U.S.-based Carter Center said they fell short of international standards.

The EU and Carter Center acknowledged the huge and complex task faced by organizers. Sudan is still recovering from a 21-year north-south civil war and the government is still fighting rebels in the Darfur region.

Witnesses reported numerous problems during the voting, including missing names on voter lists, confusing ballots, and a shortage of voting materials.

Sudan's election commission has said it expects to release more complete results on Tuesday. However, the French News Agency quotes an official as saying the results may be delayed.

The elections were a key part of the 2005 peace deal that ended the Sudanese civil war. That agreement calls for semi-autonomous southern Sudan to vote on full independence next year.