Page last updated at 13:59 GMT, Thursday, 11 September 2008 14:59 UK

Sudan election 'could be delayed'

Map of Sudan

A minister in South Sudan's government has said nationwide elections due by July 2009 could be delayed by at least six months.

Minister for Presidential Affairs Luka Biong said torrential rain and a series of logistical problems could make it difficult to vote as scheduled.

The polls, agreed on in a 2005 peace deal, would be Sudan's first democratic elections in more than two decades.

The peace deal ended a 21-year civil war between the north and the south.

"Practically, it won't be feasible to have them [elections] by July," Mr Biong said, according to Reuters news agency.

He is from the SPLM party of former rebels, which is planning to contest the polls against the NCP of President Omar al-Bashir.

The two parties signed the 2005 deal and share power at a national level but analysts say relations remain tense.

In July, a law was passed, paving the way for the elections.

The peace deal gave the south a semi-autonomous government and provided for a referendum on independence for the south by 2011.

Correspondents say any delay to the elections would also raise worries over the timing of the referendum.


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