Nearly 98 percent of voters in Sudan’s western Darfur region have voted against reuniting the five separate states in the war-torn region, according to the electoral commission overseeing the referendum.
Darfur referendum commission chief Omar Ali Jamaa said Saturday 3.2 million of Darfur’s 3.5 million registered voters cast ballots in the election, which was monitored by international observers including the Arab League and the African Union.
Major rebel and opposition groups, who believe uniting the region would give the people there more autonomy, boycotted the vote and accused the Khartoum government of fudging the result numbers.
"These results reflect the fraud the Sudanese government continues to employ in all of its elections. It's the falsification of the will of the masses," said Jibril Bilal, a spokesman for the Justice and Equality Movement (JEM), one of Darfur's two main rebel groups. "These results are not real nor logical. We don't acknowledge the referendum, which most of Darfur boycotted."
The rebel groups argued that displaced people could not vote in the election and residents in three of the camps for displaced people in central Darfur protested against the referendum.
The referendum, which took place April 11-13, came as part of a peace process to end conflict that has raged in the region for 13 years and cost the lives of more than 300,000 people, according to the United Nations.
The U.S. Department of State also raised questions over the legitimacy of the vote, saying it could not be considered credible “under current rules and conditions.”
Sudanese President Omar al-Bashir – who is wanted by the International Criminal Court on war crimes related to the genocide in Darfur – has insisted the election was free and fair.
Some material for this report came from AFP and Reuters.