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Sudan presidential election put back until April

world Updated: Jun 30, 2009 23:19 IST

Sudan's presidential election, which had been set for February, has been put back until April because of a delay in completing a national census, the electoral commission announced on Tuesday.

"Voting will begin on April 5 and finish on April 12," with results announced a few days later, said a letter from the commission to Sudanese newspapers, a copy of which was obtained by AFP.

"The electoral process depends on the results of the census, but those results were not received until mid-May, a month and a half later than expected," the letter said.

The results of the census are seen as crucial to preparing constituencies for the elections and are being objected to by southern former rebels.

The census found Sudan to have a total population of 39,154,490, with 8,260,490 or 21 percent living in the south.

It also counted 520,000 southern Sudanese living in the north.

But southerners say they account for one third of the total population.

The polls will be the first since 1986, when Sadiq al-Mahdi was elected prime minister. He was overthrown in a coup three years later by current president Omar al-Beshir.