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Britain, Norway and US say Sudan Elections Marred by Irregularities

Following what they called a marred election, the United States, Britain and Norway are calling for Sudanese officials to take further steps to fully implement the country's 2005 peace accord.

Britain, Norway and the United States say Sudan's elections were marred by poor preparation and other suspected irregularities.

The three countries, which are guarantors of a 2005 peace deal, said in a joint statement that independent observers judged the elections failed to meet international standards. They also said they were reassured that voting passed reasonably peacefully, with significant participation.

Saturday, the U.S.-based Carter Center and the European Union election observation teams said the election fell short of meeting international standards.

Subsequent statements from other regional observation teams have been less harsh. Preliminary statements from the African Union, the Arab League, and IGAD - a regional bloc of nations instrumental in negotiating Sudan's north-south peace deal - did not report widespread fraud, although they acknowledged irregularities and logistical problems in conducting the vote.

In South Sudan, registered voters struggled to find their names on porous voter lists. In the north, opposition groups say blatant electioneering on the part of Sudanese President Omar Hassan al-Bashir ruling National Congress Party has removed all credibility from the polls.

The deputy secretary general for South Sudan's SPLM, Anne Itto, urged Southerners to avoid reverting to violence if they disagreed with the election results, warning that instability could threaten the referendum. "I want the Southern Sudanese people to know we cannot move to the next step without peace, harmony, and unity among our people. And therefore I am appealing to all SPLM members, supporters of SPLM, to the general public, and to all nationalistic Southern Sudanese, to put the interest of our people, our children, the future of this country, ahead and above all the interests that we have to win elections," she said.

Early results from the multi-party election, Sudan's first in more than two decades, suggest President Omar Hassan al-Bashir and his party are heading for a strong win in presidential and parliamentary polls.