Sudanese voters headed to the polls in sparse numbers on Monday at the start of a three-day election boycotted by the main opposition parties, with President Omar Hassan al-Bashir on course to extend his quarter century in power. The presidential and parliamentary elections are the first since Sudan saw its south secede in 2011, losing a third of its land and nearly all of its oil production. Bashir has cast himself as a guarantor of stability as his security forces tackle insurgencies in the western territory of Darfur and along the border with South Sudan. He has warned against a change in government while the wider region is embroiled in violence from Libya to Yemen. His campaign speeches have also addressed improving the economy, in which inflation and unemployment remain high.
“The elections are better than what is happening elsewhere in the region. Look at the death and killing. Thank God we have avoided that,” said local government official Nadia Ahmed, 55, voting in the capital.
Those boycotting the vote say a clamp down on the opposition and civil society has created an impossible environment to compete against Bashir, who has ruled since a 1989 Islamist and army-backed coup.