By Shadi Bushra and Khalid Abdelaziz
KHARTOUM – Sudanese voters trickled in to polling stations on Monday at the start of a three-day election boycotted by the main opposition parties, with President Omar Hassan al-Bashir set to extend his quarter-century in power.
The presidential and parliamentary polls 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 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.
In Sudan, security forces are tackling insurgencies in the western territory of Darfur and along the border with South Sudan.
“The elections are good and clean and there’s nothing more I would ask of them,” said Nadia Ahmed Abdelrahman, a 55-year-old local government official voting in the capital.
“The elections are better than what is happening elsewhere in the region. Look at the death and killing. Thank God we have avoided that,” she said.
But voters, who tend to head to the polls later in the day, were thin on the ground in Khartoum early on Monday.
The boycotting parties say a clamp down on the opposition, media and civil society has created an impossible environment to compete against Bashir, who has ruled since a 1989 Islamist and army-backed coup.