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Page last updated at 23:13 GMT, Friday, 23 April 2010 00:13 UK

Opposition backers shot in Southern Sudan protests

President of Southern Sudan Salva Kiir Mayardit
The ruling SLPM won the governor seat in Unity state

Two supporters of a defeated candidate in Sudan have been shot dead by police during demonstrations.

The protests followed the announcement that the ruling party in Southern Sudan retained the key governorship of the oil-rich Unity state.

Four others were injured in the clash after police opened fire on the crowd in the state capital, Bentiu.

It is the first serious violence reported since the election results have begun to be announced.

The elections were the first multi-party polls in 24 years, but have been marred by irregularities and alleged fraud.

A radio announcement on Friday said incumbent Taban Deng, the official candidate of the ruling Sudan People's Liberation Movement (SPLM), had defeated independent candidate Angelina Teny.

The results triggered a clash between supporters of Ms Teny and security forces.

Ms Teny ran as an independent candidate, but is also a member of the SPLM and married to Riek Machar, south Sudan's vice-president.

Dispute

The BBC's James Copnall in Khartoum says the incident reveals a real split within the SPLM.

Our correspondent also says the Unity state has huge strategic importance because of its oil reserves and its location on the North-South border.

Votes are counted in Sudan's landmark elections
Foreign observers say the polls failed to meet international standards

The elections commission ruled that Ms Teny was defeated by more than 70,000 votes, but her supporters claim the result is fraudulent.

"Angelina Teny was leading by a difference of 24,000 votes and she was supposed to be announced the winner," Yohanis Pouk, Ms Teny's campaign spokesperson, told AFP.

"So we were shocked when Taban Deng announced himself the winner on radio."

A security official told Reuters that protesters had been trying to destroy a local radio station.

The official, who wanted to remain anonymous, said police guarding the building had opened fire in self-defence.

Tensions are high across the country as results slowly come in from 11-15 April polls.

Results so far, mainly from the north of the country, show President Omar al-Bashir's party has a strong lead.

President Bashir is widely expected to be re-elected, while the SLPM are likely to hold onto power in the semi-autonomous south.

Final results are expected on Sunday.



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