- The Washington Times - Tuesday, April 13, 2010

KHARTOUM, Sudan (AP) — Former U.S. President Jimmy Carter, whose organization is monitoring Sudanese elections, welcomed on Tuesday a two-day extension in the voting as complaints about the process mounted.

The elections ending Thursday are expected to keep President Omar Bashir in power for another five years, even though he is under an international indictment for purported war crimes in Sudan’s Darfur region.

In the capital Khartoum, official media said the National Election Commission expects to announce initial results on Friday. Salah Habib, a commission spokesman, said final results are due on April 20.

“There are problems but we are trying to solve and correct them,” Mr. Carter told reporters Tuesday in Juba, the capital of southern Sudan. “I think it is a very good decision by the electoral commission to extend the voting by two more days.”

Voting began Sunday and had originally been scheduled to end Tuesday. But it was extended through Thursday after widespread complaints about the process. Election monitors say voting was delayed in some parts of the country, particularly in the impoverished south. There were reports some polling stations had been moved without notice, voter registries or other crucial equipment was missing and observers were not allowed in to witness the process.

The former president, whose Carter Center monitors elections around the world, met Tuesday with voters and polling stations staff members in Juba.

This is Sudan’s first multiparty election in almost a quarter century, agreed under a 2005 peace deal that ended 21 years of a bloody north-south civil war. It was intended to bring a democratically elected government for the impoverished country and prepare for a referendum next year on independence for southern Sudan.

But international observers, local monitors and opposition complained the process has been flawed from the start and heavily controlled by Lt. Gen. Bashir’s ruling party.

On Tuesday, Lt. Gen. Bashir’s party and other southern political parties also accused the junior partner in government and the main southern party, the Sudan People’s Liberation Army, of heavy-handedness.

The semiofficial Sudan Media Center, reporting from the south, said about 400 members of the ruling party in the region have been arrested by the SPLA forces for no reason.

Associated Press Writers Jason Straziuso in Nairobi, Kenya and Sarah El Deeb in Cairo contributed to this report.

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