KHARTOUM Sudan said on Sunday the northern ruling party won an election for governor in the north's main oil state after a vote the south said was rigged, creating a fresh flashpoint before the south secedes in July.
The state of South Kordofan borders the south of Sudan and holds most of what will remain of the north's oil output after the south splits away. The state is also home to many fighters who sided against the north in a civil war that ended in 2005.
South Sudan voted to declare independence from Khartoum in a January referendum promised in a 2005 peace deal that ended decades of civil war with the north.
The National Election Commission (NEC) said the governor's race was won by the ruling National Congress Party's Ahmed Haroun, who is wanted by the International Criminal Court over charges of war crimes in the Darfur region in the west of Sudan.
"Ahmed Haroun is elected as governor," a member of the commission, Mukhtar Elassum, told reporters.
In the state's parliamentary vote, the NCP won 22 out of 32 electorate districts and the SPLM 10, the commission said.
Analysts fear violence could erupt after the southern Sudan People's Liberation Movement (SPLM) said on Friday it would withdraw from the South Kordofan vote because it considered it to be rigged.
Many of the state's population fought alongside southern rebels during the civil war and fear they will be targeted in the new, separate north Sudan.
The vote held almost two weeks ago was delayed from April last year after the SPLM accused Khartoum of manipulating a census and other election preparations.
"We will not accept these results because the vote was rigged," Yasir Arman, head of the northern section of the SPLM, told reporters late on Saturday ahead of the NEC announcement.
"We will not participate in the parliament of government," he said, saying Haroun should have never been allowed to run in the first place because of the war crime charges against him.
He said the SPLM would use "all peaceful means" to protest against the vote, declining to elaborate.
The NEC called on all parties to accept the results and rejected accusations the vote was flawed.
"Reports of all observers point to an excellent level of exactness," Abdullah Ahmed Abdullah, deputy head of the commission and a northerner, told reporters.
The Carter Center, the largest international observer mission for the elections, did not immediately comment on the results, saying only said it would soon issue a statement.
It had urged all parties last week to remain calm and settle any disputes through the proper legal channels.
Sudan's President Omar Hassan al-Bashir had thrown his full weight behind the NCP's election campaign because of the state's strategic importance.
Khartoum will lose of up to 75 percent of Sudan's 500,000 barrels per day oil output when the south secedes on July 9. Southern Kordofan holds the most productive fields left in the north.
It is also important to Khartoum because it borders Darfur and the disputed, oil-producing Abyei region, another north-south flashpoint in the build-up to secession.
Bashir, also wanted by the world criminal court on war crimes charges, held onto power in last year's election and his NCP won an overwhelming victory in the north. The SPLM, which will stay an opposition party in the north, dominated the south.
(Reporting by Ulf Laessing; Editing by Elizabeth Fullerton, Additional reporting by Khaled Abdelaziz)