Poor turnout as polls open in Sudan
In the densely-populated Haj Youssef district in eastern Khartoum, only seven voters showed up to cast their ballots

KHARTOUThe first two hours of Sudanese presidential and parliamentary elections were marked by a poor voter turnout in various states nationwide amid a boycott by the opposition.

Polls opened 8am local time (0500 GMT) on Monday amid heavy police presence around the centers.

National Election Commission (NEC) spokesman Al-Hadi Mohamed Ahmed confirmed to The Anadolu Agency that 7,000 polling centers in the country have opened on time.

"Everything is going fine and as planned. Around 7,000 centers have been opened across the country and so far all the reports we received from the states say the voters have started the polling," he told AA.

"If any citizen wants any information about the location of his polling center or any other information, he can go to the NEC official website or dial the commission's hotline – 6006 - to get any information he looks for," he added.

Up to 13 million Sudanese voters are expected to show up to vote in the three-day polls from 8am to 6pm as of Monday.

The polls, however, opened an hour later in four states, three of which are in the restive region of Darfur.

It is widely believed that incumbent President Omar al-Bashir, who has ruled the country for over 25 years, will win the elections, in which he will run against 15 little-known contestants.

Voters also will elect 425 members of the parliament and 2,235 members of state legislative assemblies. A total of 1,072 candidates will vie for seats in the National Assembly, while over 7,000 will run for state legislative assembly seats.

The Sudanese government on Sunday gave all civil servants nationwide a day off on the first day of the elections.

In Imtidad area polling center in the capital Khartoum, the NEC officer announced the opening of the center for voters at 8am, but the first voter only came at 8:45.

Ahmed al-Awad, 37, who put the first ballot paper in the center's box said that he came to vote because the elections will help achieve stability in Sudan.

"You can see what is happening in the Arab Spring countries, and we don’t like this chaos to extend to our country, so peaceful elections are the best way to secure the country," al-Awad told AA.

In Samrab area in northern Khartoum, no voters were seen in the polling center at the first hour after the center's opening.

However, some people outside the center told AA that they don't intend to vote because there was "no hope for any change" in the country.

"Why we do tire ourselves and vote? The result is already known," Ahmed Abdel-Baqi told AA, while pointing his finger at a poster of al-Bashir.

"Since the beginning of the electoral race, I only got to know one face of the candidates, which was President al-Bashir," he added.

In Buri area in Khartoum, the officer of the center Mohamed Abdel-Rahman said that everything is in place in the center. However, there is no voters yet.

In the densely-populated Haj Youssef district in eastern Khartoum, only seven voters showed up to cast their ballots.

In Port Sudan city, 680km northeast of Khartoum, the mood was similar. Mwafag Abdul said that he will not going to vote and he did not even register for the elections.

"We heard about the elections but we don’t know where and how to register or vote, we don’t care about these political things," Abdul told AA over the phone.

In Sennar city, 300km from Khartoum, Abuzar Aljack also said that he is not going to vote, adding that most of the citizens in his neighborhood will not going to vote because they don’t think the election will change their life.

Meanwhile, an alliance of Sudanese opposition parties has launched a campaign to boycott the upcoming elections and started an open sit-in at the National Umma Party (NUP) headquarters in Omdurman.

The alliance spokesman, Bakri Youssef, told AA that they have been mobilizing citizens not to participate in the elections.

"The government is lying on the people. There are no any elections. Just yesterday the security organs have arrested many activists in Khartoum and other cities," he said.

No government official was immediately available for comment on Youssef's assertions. Yet, government officials have repeatedly asserted that it would hold free and fair polls.

Last Modified: 2015-04-13 10:58:36
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