Sudan Vote-Count Begins amid Reports of Low Turnout
Vote-counting for the presidential and legislative elections in Sudan began Saturday morning amid reports of a low turnout.
Senior election officials said the count would last for two days, with the results announced Monday.
General Electoral Commission (GEC) member Chagai Matet said the count would continue day and night and that there would be a "hotline" established among state capitals to get the results as quickly as possible.
According to another GEC member, Jalal Mohamed Ahmed, representatives of the presidential and parliamentary candidates would be present during the counting.
Khartoum State's High Electoral Committee chairman, Bushra Ahmed al-Sheikh, told reporters that the count began simultaneously in his state's seven provinces.
He said Khartoum State was so far averaging 63 percent for voter turnout with its electorate of 1.3 million.
According to the As-Sahafa daily, reporting from North Kordofan State in central Sudan, local election senior officer Adam Abdin said the polling was "satisfactory in general", but the turnout in the capital el-Obeid was "weak".
"The people of el-Obeid were not enthusiastic towards the elections, and the turnout was therefore weak in all polling centers of the city," said Abdin.
The main reason behind the low turnout all over Sudan was, according to observers, the massive boycott of the elections by all the opposition parties.
Some election officials said the voters were too tired with fasting for Ramadan, or too busy with preparations for the upcoming end-of-holiday feast, to bother with voting. Popular committee members had visited houses to persuade people to go to the polls.
Senior Popular National Congress (PNC) official Ibrahim al-Sanousi described the election as "a comedy," which he said was ignored by people who were "busy with their living and with their worship".
"Despite the temptation and intimidation, the people preferred to stay away, and those who actually went to the polls did not exceed seven percent of the eligible voters," said Sanousi.
The election has been muddied by allegations that government candidates had funnelled public funds.
Sudan has 26 states, with zones controlled by rebel forces most notably in its three southern states -- KHARTOUM (AFP)
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