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Sudan: Voting extended by one day due to low turn out, opposition boycott


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(By Estera Popowska)
Following a low voter turnout , Sudan has extended nationwide elections by one day Wednesday; a move opposition reportedly said reflected apathy towards President Omar al-Bashir.

In addition to the extra day of voting, the National Electoral Commission (NEC) had already extended Wednesday poll opening by an hour, to 1600 GMT. Polls will close at the same time on Thursday.

The elections for the presidency and for national and state parliaments have seen a poor turnout since voting began Monday. Agencies say Polls had been due to close Wednesday evening, but the Sudanese National Electoral Commission announced they would stay open on Thursday in all districts.

Mokhtar al-Asam, National Electoral Commission chief, reportedly told a press conference that the extensions are to allow Sudanese “to choose their representatives in the national and state parliaments and the presidency of the republic.”

Meanwhile, the opposition Umma Party, which is boycotting the vote, seized on the trickle of voters as a sign of disillusionment. “It was expected the turnout would be like this, because it will bring no change,” said Umma deputy head Maryam al-Mahdi adding that “Bashir will sweep all the votes for the presidency. There is absolutely no competition in this election.”

Mr Bashir, a 71-year-old ex-soldier, indicted by the International Criminal Court for alleged war crimes, is seeking to extend his quarter-century rule practically unopposed.
Bashir faces 13 little-known challengers in an election boycotted by the mainstream opposition in the country of nearly 38 million people, the third most-populous state in the Arab world.

Most opposition parties have called for a boycott, organising small sit-ins against the vote. (Source: New Vision)

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