Sudan votes in Darfur referendum as rebels boycott
Polls opened across Darfur in a referendum on whether to keep its five states or unite them into a single region
Polls opened across Sudan’s conflict-hit Darfur Monday in a referendum on whether to keep its five states or unite them into a single region despite rebels boycotting and international criticism.
Ethnic minority rebels in Darfur have been battling forces loyal to President Omar al-Bashir -- wanted for alleged war crimes in the region -- over claims his Arab-dominated government was marginalising them.
Rebels have long demanded a single region but say the vote cannot be free and fair due to ongoing unrest.
Heavy fighting in the Marra mountains at the centre of Darfur has forced at least 100,000 people to flee their homes since January, the United Nations says.
Khartoum has insisted the vote go ahead as it was stipulated under a peace agreement signed in Doha in 2011 with several rebel groups.
The United States has voiced concerns over the vote, saying that “if held under current rules and conditions, a referendum on Darfur cannot be considered a credible expression of the will of the people of Darfur”.
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