Sudan votes in elections boycotted by opposition groups

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By Shadi Bushra and Khalid Abdelaziz

KHARTOUM  – Sudanese trickled in to polling stations on at the start of a three-day boycotted by the main parties, with President Omar Hassan al-Bashir set to extend his quarter-century in power.

The presidential and parliamentary polls are the first since 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 , in which inflation and unemployment remain high. He has also promised to maintain stability, warning against a change in while the region is embroiled in to Yemen.

In , security forces are tackling insurgencies in the western territory of Darfur and along the border with South .

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“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 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 , who tend to head to the polls later in the day, were thin on the ground in Khartoum early on .

The boycotting parties say a clamp down on the , media and civil society has created an impossible environment to compete against Bashir, who has ruled since a 1989 Islamist and -backed .