, KHARTOUM, Apr 20 – President Omar al-Beshir\’s ruling party on Tuesday rejected US accusations that last week\’s landmark polls in Sudan were not free and fair but welcomed an overture for cooperation with Washington.
"One of the most important criteria to meet the international standards is \’free and fair,\’ and we have met this criteria," Ibrahim Ghandoor, a senior official of the National Congress Party (NCP), told AFP.
Between April 11-15, Sudanese went to the polls to choose their president, legislative and local representatives in the country\’s first multi-party elections in over two decades.
But the US State Department on Monday said the elections were not free and fair, after international observers said the polls had failed to reach international standards.
"This was not a free and fair election. It did not, broadly speaking, meet international standards," State Department spokesman Philip Crowley told reporters in Washington.
"That said, I think we recognise that the election is a very important step in terms of implementation of the CPA," the Comprehensive Peace Agreement that ended a decades-long civil war between north and south Sudan, Crowley said.
Washington "will continue to work with the government in the north, the government in the south, as we move forward with full implementation of the CPA and the vitally important referenda (on southern indepenence) that\’ll happen in January of next year."
The NCP welcomed the offer.
"We welcome the cooperation with the US government for the implementation of the CPA and for the sake of bilateral relations," Gandoor said.
The election, which was marred by a number of opposition boycotts and logistical problems, is likely to see Beshir re-elected as president despite his International Criminal Court arrest warrant for alleged war crimes.