Critics renew charges of election fraud in Sudan

Wednesday, April 21, 2010; A08


Critics raise pressure in vote fraud charges

Two parties in Sudan's underdeveloped east accused the president's party on Tuesday of using fraud and intimidation to secure election victories across their region, and the White House said the vote had been beset by "serious irregularities."

Sudan is holding its first open polls in 24 years as part of a peace deal meant to bring the oil-producing nation back to democracy after decades of civil war.

Much of the opposition boycotted the proceedings before voting started, citing irregularities, and observers have said the elections did not meet international standards.

Officials are still counting ballots in many areas, but the few results they have announced point to a big win for the National Congress Party, led by President Omar Hassan al-Bashir. The United States has said the elections were neither free nor fair and redoubled its criticism Tuesday.

"Political rights and freedoms were circumscribed throughout the electoral process, there were reports of intimidation and threats of violence in South Sudan, ongoing conflict in Darfur did not permit an environment conducive to acceptable elections, and inadequacies in technical preparations for the vote resulted in serious irregularities," the White House said in a statement.

-- Reuters


Ousted president in exile in Belarus

Kyrgyzstan's ousted president was in exile in Belarus on Tuesday, and the interim authorities controlling Bishkek, the Kyrgyz capital, warned that he would be imprisoned if he tried to return to the Central Asian country.

Kurmanbek Bakiyev, who fled the capital after an April 7 protest rally that exploded into gunfire and left 85 people dead, had taken refuge last week in neighboring Kazakhstan, then left Monday without announcing a destination.

-- Associated Press


Builder selected for hydroelectric dam

A consortium of nine companies has won the rights to build one of the world's largest hydroelectric dams, Brazilian authorities said Tuesday.

Brazil's electricity regulator, Aneel, said the Norte Energia consortium won the bid for the huge Amazon-region project, which is heavily opposed by environmentalists, indigenous residents and the director of the blockbuster movie "Avatar."

The bidding for the Belo Monte dam was halted three times before a final appeal by the government allowed the winning bidder to be announced Tuesday. Nearly 500 protesters gathered outside the Aneel building to condemn the project, saying it will cause serious social and environmental damages.

-- Associated Press

Thai army, protesters at standoff: Tensions escalated in the standoff between anti-government demonstrators and Thai security forces as the army said Tuesday that deadly force could be used against protesters besieging the capital.

The "Red Shirt" demonstrators, meanwhile, reinforced defenses at their urban encampment -- shrouded with netting for privacy -- and prepared homemade weapons, including hundreds of sharpened bamboo poles and broken-up pavement stones.

Argentine dictator, 82, gets 25-year sentence: Argentina's last dictator was convicted and sentenced to 25 years in prison Tuesday for torture and illegal detentions committed during the nation's 1976-83 military regime.

Reynaldo Bignone, 82, shared responsibility in 56 cases involving break-ins, robbery, unlawful detentions and physical coercion in one of Argentina's largest torture centers, the Campo de Mayo military base, a tribunal ruled.

Saudi religious police official fired over comments on mixing of sexes: The head of Saudi Arabia's powerful religious police has fired the chief of the Mecca branch for advocating the mixing of the sexes, an official from the force said Tuesday.

Ahmed bin Qassim al-Ghamidi's suggestion in a newspaper interview this week that men and women should be left to mingle freely directly clashed with a central preoccupation of the force.

-- From news services

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