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Sudan's first multiparty elections in more than 2 decades maintain status quo

By Sudarsan Raghavan
Monday, April 26, 2010; 8:02 PM

As observers predicted, Sudan's first multiparty elections in more than two decades did not change the status quo.

In the north, President Omar Hassan al-Bashir will remain in power after winning 68 percent of the vote, according to results released Monday. In the semiautonomous south, Salva Kiir Mayardit will retain his post as president after winning 93 percent of the vote.

Bashir will not earn any more legitimacy from his victory: The elections were marred from the start by allegations of vote-rigging, and the main opposition parties boycotted the ballot. Bashir becomes the first head of state charged with war crimes by the International Criminal Court in The Hague to be reelected.

The election was a necessary step to pave the way for a 2011 referendum in which southerners will decide whether they want to secede from Sudan.

The question now is whether the referendum will actually be held or whether Sudan will once again descend into civil war. As the elections showed, Bashir and his ruling party have a very poor record when it comes to allowing electoral competition, especially the kind that could reduce his grip on Sudan. And the south, home to most of the country's oil riches, plays no small role in Sudan's power structure.

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