Candidate Ahmed Haroun displays his ink-stained finger after casting… (Philip Dhil, European Pressphoto…)
Reporting from Cairo and Khartoum, Sudan — Ahmed Haroun, a Sudanese ruling National Congress Party candidate wanted by the International Criminal Court on war crimes charges, was elected governor of a central Sudanese state Sunday in an election opponents say was rigged.
Haroun defeated opponent Abdul-Aziz Hilu of the Sudan People's Liberation Movement by about 6,500 votes to become governor of Southern Kordofan, a post to which he had been appointed in 2009. The opposition party withdrew from vote counting in Southern Kordofan on Friday, citing balloting irregularities. Similar allegations last year delayed the election.
ICC officials allege that Haroun recruited and armed some of the notorious militias, known as janjaweed, in Sudan's Darfur region while working at the Interior Ministry before he became governor. Haroun says he did nothing illegal.
"Haroun and the National Elections Commission are partners in rigging this election," Hilu told reporters Sunday. "We will never recognize and accept the outcome because they are rigged and we have evidence of that."
The state includes the disputed oil-rich border town of Abyei, the site of clashes in 2008 and, more recently, last week when four United Nations peacekeepers were shot.
Southern Sudan is preparing to secede from Africa's biggest country in July, after 99% of voters there backed independence in a January referendum.
A draft version of southern Sudan's interim constitution explicitly claims Abyei is in the south. But last month, President Omar Hassan Ahmed Bashir threatened not to recognize the new state if it tried to claim Abyei.
Times staff writer Hennessy-Fiske reported from Cairo and special correspondent Ahmed from Khartoum.