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Observers: Vote in Key Sudanese Oil State Credible

A man cycles past a gubernatorial election campaign billboard of NCP candidate for the governor's post Ahmed Haroun at Kadogli town, South Kordofan State, May 1, 2011

International observers say controversial elections in a key oil-producing state in Sudan were credible.

The U.S.-based Carter Center said Thursday it did not find any evidence to suggest the re-election of Ahmed Haroun as governor of South Kordofan should be invalidated.

Sudan's election commission announced Haroun's victory at the polls Sunday, following elections earlier this month.

The vote had been criticized by the northern branch of South Sudan's ruling party, the Sudan People's Liberation Movement, which withdrew from the South Kordofan vote after charging the election was being rigged.

The Carter Center said despite the claims, the voting and ballot counting was non-partisan and transparent.

Haroun is wanted by the International Criminal Court for alleged war crimes in Sudan's Darfur region.

South Kordofan lies along the north-south border and holds much of what will remain of the north's oil output after the oil-rich south splits away. It also borders war-torn Darfur.

South Sudan voted to become independent in January, in a referendum that was part of a peace deal that ended Sudan's civil war.

Sudan's government and allied militia forces have been fighting rebel groups in Darfur since 2003. The United Nations says at least 300,000 people have been killed and 2.7 million others displaced in that conflict.