Sudanese begin voting on Monday in an election boycotted by the main opposition parties which looks set to extend President Omar Hassan al-Bashir’s more than 25 years in power. The presidential and parliamentary polls, held on April 13-15, are the first since Sudan split with the south in 2011, losing a third of its land and nearly all of its oil production. Polls open at 8am local time (0500 GMT) and 13 million people are eligible to vote, according to the National Election Commission. Initial results are expected in the days after the polls shut. The boycotting parties say a clampdown on the opposition, media and civil society has created an impossible environment to run against Bashir, who has ruled the country since a 1989 Islamist and army-backed coup.
The European Union, which observed the last, more widely contested elections in 2010, has criticized the political environment ahead of the polls.
Bashir has campaigned on improving the economy, in which inflation and unemployment remain high. He has also promised to maintain stability, warning against a change in government while the region is embroiled in violence from Libya to Yemen.