In its first election since 2011 when the south of the country seceded, Sudan is voting for president. But with the strongman president Omar Hassan al-Bashir as the only major candidate, and the opposition boycotting the vote, it’s not much of a choice.
The three-day election began on Monday, with 13 million people registered to vote, but reports said polls were empty and police outnumbered the voters. Sudan is also choosing its parliamentary representatives.
The opposition has called the election a “charade” and refused to participate. Bashir has ruled Sudan since 1989, when he took power in military coup. His opponents allege that the last vote that extended his power in 2010 was rigged and that his control over the country makes a fair election impossible. In his campaign for the current election, Bashir promised to improve the country’s weak economy and to ensure stability as insurgencies continue in Darfur, in the west of the country, and along the border with its neighbor country South Sudan.
The International Criminal Court in the Hague accuses Bashir of crimes against humanity, war crimes and genocide during the conflict in Darfur.
The international community has condemned the election, with the United States, the United Kingdom and Norway expressing “great disappointment that a genuine National Dialogue has not begun in Sudan and that an environment conducive to participatory and credible elections does not exist.”