Sudan's election commission said the nation will hold parliamentary and presidential elections next year, in what would be Sudan's first democratic elections since 1986.

Election commission deputy chair Abdullah Ahmed Abdullah told reporters Wednesday that elections will be held in February of next year.

During the same vote, voters will also elect a president, parliament and state governors for semi-autonomous Southern Sudan.

The planned elections are part of the 2005 Comprehensive Peace Agreement that ended a 21-year civil war between northern and southern Sudan. Under that agreement, the elections were supposed to have been held this year.

The nation must also demarcate north-south political boundaries before the election.

Sudan last held democratic elections in 1986. Sudan's current president, Omar al-Bashir, seized power in a 1989 coup that overthrew the democratically-elected government. He has remained president ever since.

Certain to complicate the elections is the arrest warrant issued against President Bashir last month by the International Criminal Court.  The ICC charges Mr. Bashir orchestrated a campaign of rape, murder and other crimes against civilians in Darfur, where his government has been fighting rebels since 2003.

Mr. Bashir has refused to cooperate with the court, dismissing it as a tool of Western imperialism.

The 2005 peace agreement also calls for a referendum in 2011 that would allow Southern Sudan to secede from the nation if it wishes. 



Some information for this report was provided by AFP and Reuters.