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Local election in northern Sudan deepens North-South rift

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Mohamed Nureldin Abdallah/Reuters

(Read caption) Mukhtar Elassum, a member of Sudan's National Election Commission, speaks during the announcement of the results of South Kordofan's election for governor on May 15. Sudan said on Sunday the northern ruling party won the election in the north's main oil state after a vote the south said was rigged, creating a fresh flashpoint before southern secession in July.

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From May 2- 4, residents of Southern Kordofan State in North Sudan voted in an election for governor. The outcome – a triumph for the ruling party candidate, and outrage among the defeated candidate’s supporters – threatens to further strain relations between North and South Sudan, and also to increase political tensions in North Sudan itself.

The contest primarily involved two contenders. The first was Ahmed Haroun, a member of North Sudan’s ruling National Congress Party (NCP) who served as Minister of State for Humanitarian Affairs from 2006 to 2009. In 2007, the International Criminal Court (ICC) charged Haroun with committing war crimes in Darfur and issued a warrant for his arrest. Despite this, in 2009 Haroun was appointed governor of Southern Kordofan. The second contestant was Abdelaziz al-Hilu, the state’s deputy governor and a senior member of the Sudan People’s Liberation Movement (SPLM), the party that controls the soon-to-be-independent country of South Sudan.

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