Last minute voting in Omdurman

15 Apr 2010

Last minute voting in Omdurman

After five quiet days of polling, voters were still trickling in during the last hour of Sudan's historic elections at one of Omdurman's polling centres on 15 April.

Checking for her name on the long list of registered voters attached to the polling station's wall in Sudan's old capital, Omdurman, Amani Hassan cast her ballot at five o'clock in the evening – one hour before polling officially closed.

The middle-aged woman said she had travelled to Sudan from her present home in Saudi Arabia for the event. She had come to the Omdurman polling centre with her family, where her son was also voting.

"We have great expectations," she said. "We hope that the country will be better."

Another lady in a thob (full-body veil traditional in northern Sudan), Ikbal Mahmoud, said she had been busy at work all week. When the government declared Thursday a public holiday, she took her last opportunity to vote.

Omdurman polling station head Salah Hammed said voters came in larger numbers on the last day. More than 120 people had shown up on 14 April, but about 160 people had cast their votes by 5 p.m. on the last day.

Middle-aged Tariq Hassan was among those who had delayed his vote. "I didn't want to participate ... the withdrawal of candidates had affected me."

However, he finally decided to cast his vote in hopes of improvement. "I think this is the first step toward democratic transformation in spite of reported faults in the process," he said.

"Politicians should acknowledge any irregularities that took place and correct them," he said, adding that he expected the results would lead to the beginning of stability in Sudan and "a solution to chronic problems".

Polling staffer Afaf Muttalib said she had initially expected a larger turn-out of voters. Those who had voted were excited, however, as they felt there was a chance for Sudan's transformation, she added. "We are hoping for a better life, prosperity and progress."