Page last updated at 17:03 GMT, Thursday, 2 April 2009 18:03 UK

Sudan elections put back to 2010

Map of Sudan

Sudan will hold general elections in 2010 - a year later than expected - the electoral commission has announced.

The deputy chairman of the commission, Abdullah Ahmed Abdullah, said the electoral process would begin next month and finish in February next year.

Under the 2005 peace deal to end years of war in the south, the elections were supposed to be held this year.

The SPLM, former rebels from the south, are expected to field a candidate against President Omar al-Bashir.

He has been indicted for war crimes in Darfur by the International Criminal Court.

Mr Abdullah said there would be six elections: national presidential and parliamentary, the south Sudanese presidency, state governors, the southern parliament and state assemblies.

"The results will be declared by the end of February. The voting will take place earlier in the month," he told Reuters news agency.

SPLM spokesman Yien Matthew said the former rebels were happy with the date.

The polls 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.

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

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

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