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Sudan's Bashir wins landmark presidential poll

Sudan's President Omar Hassan al-Bashir, who is wanted by the International Criminal Court for alleged crimes against humanity, has officially been declared winner of the country's first multi-party presidential election in over two decades.

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REUTERS - President Omar Hassan al-Bashir has won Sudan's first open elections in 24 years in a result that confirms in office the only sitting head of state wanted by the International Criminal Court for war crimes.

Election official Abel Alier announced at a news conference that Bashir won 68 percent of the presidential vote, while Salva Kiir, the president of Sudan's semi-autonomous southern region, won re-election with 92.99 percent of the vote in that race.

After a vote outside observers said fell short of global standards, Bashir is expected to form a coalition with Kiir as the country heads toward a 2011 plebiscite that is expected to lead south Sudan to split off and become Africa's newest state.

Bashir had hoped a win in legitimate polls would help him defy the ICC warrant, in which he is accused of ordering a campaign of murder, torture and rape in Sudan's Darfur region.

But the polls were marred by widespread charges of fraud, including from Kiir's Sudan People's Liberation Movement (SPLM), suggesting the new ruling coalition will be a fragile one.

Bashir and Kiir's current coalition government has had a rocky five years since signing a 2005 peace deal that ended more than two decades of civil war between north and south Sudan.

North-south tensions bode poorly for full implementation of the peace deal, including next year's referendum. Any major delay to that vote would be unacceptable to southerners who many analysts believe overwhelmingly desire secession.

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