Voters in Sudan began voting in an election that observers say will extend incumbent president Omar el Bashir’s rule.
Activists have called on Voters to boycott the election and deny victory to Bashir and his National Congress Party. The opposition has also boycotted the election.
Bashir, who is wanted by the International Criminal Court on war crimes charges, has been in power since 1989 and won a 2010 vote that the opposition alleged was rigged.
Voters will only vote for the president and a collection of minor candidates in the election that runs through Wednesday.
Sources say as voting began on Monday, police officers outnumbered voters and polling places stood empty in Sudan’s capital, Khartoum.
Nearly 13 million people are registered to vote, with results expected on 27 April.
President Bashir has promised to improve access to water and farmland and claimed that only he can protect voters against the chaos engulfing several countries in the wake of the Arab spring.
“There are those … who aim to do in Sudan what has happened in Yemen, Syria and Libya,” Bashir told a rally in Kadugli, the capital of South Kordofan state. “But we will not allow this to happen to Sudan.”
3,500 candidates representing 45 political parties are competing for 1,300 seats.
Sources say the European Union is not sending observers to Monday’s election because it believes the poll would not “produce a credible result with legitimacy throughout the country.