Violence mars last day of Sudan vote

A NEC worker sits at her desk near full ballot boxes during the last day of elections at a polling station in Sudan's capital Khartoum. Reuters

JUBA/KHARTOUM, Sudan, Thursday

Sudan’s ruling party said on Thursday that the southern army had killed nine people, including at least five of its officials, stoking tensions during voting in the first open elections in 24 years.

Oil-producing Sudan entered the last of a five days of presidential and legislative polls that mark a key test of stability for Africa’s largest country, emerging from decades of civil war and preparing for a 2011 southern referendum on independence.

Voting has been largely peaceful, despite logistical problems and reported harassment of independent and opposition candidates.

Agnes Lokudu, head of the northern-dominated National Congress Party (NCP) in semi-autonomous south Sudan said the region’s separate army had targeted and murdered at least five of its party officials and four other people earlier this week.

South Sudan’s army said it was an individual crime of passion by one of their soldiers who had found the local NCP chief in bed with his wife.

“At night some (southern army) soldiers came to the home of the president of the National Congress Party in Raja, and killed him and eight other people, Lokudu said.

Raja county is in Western Bahr al-Ghazal state in a remote part of south Sudan.

On Thursday southern Sudanese observers said security forces had removed 19 monitors from polling stations, assaulting one.
Results are due by April 20.

SPLM head Salva Kiir, is likely to retain his title of south Sudan president, vital ahead of a January 2011 southern vote on independence which many expect to result in secession.

A wave of boycotts by opposition in much of the north left little doubt the NCP’s President Omar Hassan al-Bashir would win the elections. (Reuters)