Sudan Votes in Polls Expected to Extend Bashir’s Rule
Polling stations opened in Sudan, where elections are expected to see the incumbent President Omar al-Bashir hold on to power for another five-year term.
Voting in the general and presidential elections began at 8am on Monday and will continue for three days.
More than 13 million people have registered to vote at some 11,000 polling stations across the country.
But as voting was set to begin, several polling stations in the capital had no voters at all lined up to cast their ballots.
At the St Francis School in central Khartoum, the first person to vote, 61-year-old Saad Eldin Osman, told Al Jazeera it was his duty to vote “for the nations future” and that he would cast his vote for Bashir.
The country’s main opposition groups are boycotting the elections, in which 14 little-known candidates are challenging the incumbent.
“I only see Bashir on TV and elsewhere. It doesn’t feel like Bashir has any other contesting against him,” Ali Adel Kheder, 19, told Al Jazeera, adding that he would not vote.
“The state TV and private channels are all pro-Bashir. I don’t know who the candidates are and what their election programmes are.”
Voters will also be electing members of the national assembly, and the legislative councils of the states.
Quota systems are in place to ensure that women occupy at least 25 percent of seats in the national assembly and that all the country’s regions are fairly represented.
The opposition says no credible elections can be held until peace is restored in all of the country’s regions and the oppositions demands, including the release of all political prisoners and increased press freedom, are met.
Student Abdallah Abdelrahman, 22, told Al Jazeera that he would not be voting because the result was already obvious.
“The best thing is to boycott. We don’t trust the observers, because they are going to be threatened by the government. They will not do anything,” he said.
“The government knows how to fake the election. Change will only come via a revolution, an organised revolution with a leader. There is currently no leader in Sudan.”