Sudan set to vote in polls shunned by opposition
Sudan is set to vote in the country’s general elections, which are expected to see the incumbent President Omar al-Bashir hold on to power for another five-year term.
More than 13-million people have registered for three days of voting due to start at 8am local time on Monday at some 11 000 polling stations across the country.
In addition to Bashir, 14 little-known candidates that pose little threat to the incumbent are running.
“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% of seats in the national assembly and that all the country’s regions are fairly represented.
Bashir, who has ruled the country for 25 years, is expected to win by a landslide since most of Sudan’s main opposition groups are boycotting the polls.
They say 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.”
But Ali Salah (19) said he was going to vote for Bashir since he was the “only one who knows how to rule Sudan”.
“The current president understands this country. If any change is needed, he is the only one that can do it, no one else,” he said.
Grassroot movements have campaigned on Facebook for a boycott of what they have dubbed the “the elections of blood”.
A 22-year-student and member of Girifna, one of the groups participating in the campaign, told Al Jazeera that her movement has not planned any big protests during the elections since they know such actions would be met by violence. Instead, activists are distributing leaflets and talking to people in smaller groups with the focus on rural areas.
“We will continue our campaign by spreading awareness in the street, mosques and on public transport,” she told Al Jazeera. “We are telling people why it is important to boycott these fake elections. We are trying to change the people by making them aware of their rights.”
Security is a major concern in the country which has seen escalating violence in Darfur, Blue Nile and South Kordofan states. Armed groups have threatened to disrupt the election process.
The government has deployed 75 000 police personnel across the country to secure voting.
The head of the election commission, Mukhtar al-Assam, said the elections would take place across the 18 Sudanese states, except for six areas in South Kordofan and one in central Darfur where fighting has been raging between rebels and government forces.
The elections will be monitored by the African Union, the Intergovernmental Authority on Development (IGAD), the Organisation of the Islamic Conference (OIC), and the Arab League.
Counting of ballots is expected to begin shortly after the last polls close on April 15. The results are scheduled to be announced on April 27.
Sudanese abroad will cast their ballots on April 17-19.