Sudan said rebels shelled the capital of a southern border state as the North African country extended voting by a day in polls that President Umar al-Bashir is expected to win.
Sudan People’s Liberation Movement-North insurgents fired rockets at Kadugli, the capital of Southern Kordofan, on Tuesday, injuring one person, said Mokhtar al-Assam, head of the National Elections Commission. Rebel spokesman Arnu Lodi didn’t answer four calls to his phone seeking comment.
Voting will continue into Thursday “to give an opportunity to the largest possible number of voters,” al-Assam said Wednesday by phone from Sudan’s capital, Khartoum. Al-Tareeq, a Sudanese news website, has reported limited turnout at polling stations across the country.
Al-Bashir, who has ruled Sudan for a quarter-century, is competing against 15 little-known candidates in elections originally scheduled for April 13-15. He’s pledged to restore peace to the country, which is battling rebellions in at least six of its 18 states, as well as rejuvenate an economy still reeling from the loss of three-quarters of its oil reserves to South Sudan.
Sudan’s major opposition parties have declined to field presidential or parliamentary candidates, while the National Consensus Forces, an opposition coalition, has campaigned for a boycott. Another election official, al-Hadi Mohamed Ahmed, said earlier that voting will be extended for two days at 100 polling stations in al-Jazeera state, southeast of Khartoum, because of a delay in delivering election materials.
The SPLM-N, who have waged an insurgency in southern Sudan since mid-2011, on April 13 fired rockets at Dilling town in Southern Kordofan, with Lodi saying they were targeting government forces and seeking to disrupt the first day of polling. Two children were injured, a local official said.
The United Nations mission in Sudan’s western Darfur region, where a rebellion and intercommunal violence have raged for more than a decade, reported demonstrations against the elections over the past three days.
About 200 students protested at a university campus in the North Darfur state capital, El Fasher, while demonstrations were held by internally displaced people at three camps throughout the broader Darfur region, the mission said by e-mail.
The opposition coalition in Khartoum said on April 13 that at least 15 political activists had been detained for advocating an elections boycott. The ruling National Congress Party has said some arrests were made of people seeking to disrupt the vote.
Election results are due to be announced April 27.