Second polling day in Khartoum calm

12 Apr 2010

Second polling day in Khartoum calm

At a quiet voting station in Khartoum's upscale Riyad area around noon on the second day of Sudan's poll, about five women were sitting in the shade of a tree and some men lingering around.

Hayat Saleh, a middle-aged woman wearing a thob (traditional northern Sudanese dress for women), said she had already voted the day before and was there now as the Riyad North branch leader of the government-related Sudanese Women's General Union.

"Women are enthusiastic and come voluntarily," Ms. Saleh said, adding that the union provided buses and had transported a few hundred women to the polling centre.

Despite media reports about confusion during polling, including mixed up voter lists, Ms. Saleh thought the process was going smoothly.

"We do our best to cast our votes but don't have expectations about the outcome – we leave that to God," she said.

At the same Riyad station, Rashid Ali, a man in his 20s and agent to a National Assembly candidate, said that "there was a rush" of people on the first polling day, noting also that "a lot of the voters belonged to the same party".

But by the second day, voter interest had subsided, Mr. Ali said. "I don't think people are excited about the elections because some parties quit (withdrew from the poll)."

In Gireif, a less affluent area of Khartoum, voter turnout was similarly low. Around mid-day, about five people were casting their ballots.

Some people think the elections are "like an agreement between parties and the outcome is fixed," 21-year-old Osama Adam said upon exiting the polling centre. "They don't care about what happens."

While acknowledging that the voting process was easy to understand and took about 10-15 minutes, Mr. Adam said about 20 per cent of his generation had failed to vote as they considered it a waste of time, believing the results were predetermined.

"The president will be the same," Mr. Adam said. "The difference will be in the chairs of the National Assembly."