August 6, 2014 / 11:32 AM / in 3 years

Sudan presidential, parliamentary polls to start on April 2, 2015

KHARTOUM (Reuters) - Sudan’s presidential and parliamentary elections will start on April 2, 2015, the head of the election committee said on Wednesday, announcing a vote widely expected to extend veteran leader Omar Hassan al-Bashir’s hold on power.

President Bashir, 70, has not yet announced his election plans. He has been in power for 25 years, surviving an armed rebellion in the western region of Darfur, economic crisis, anti-government protests and an indictment by the International Criminal Court on masterminding war crimes in Darfur.

His National Congress Party, which now holds 90 percent of seats in parliament, is also expected to win a fresh mandate.

“The door for candidates’ nominations will open on December 31,” election committee chief Mokhtar Al-Assam told a news conference, adding that new voters would be allowed to register from October 28.

Assam did not say how many days the April elections would last in the vast desert nation or provide other details about the vote. There are around 11 million eligible voters in Sudan out of a total population of around 32 million, according to the most recent statistics.

Bashir took power in a bloodless coup in 1989.

Opposition parties boycotted the last presidential poll in April 2010, citing fraud.

Sudanese security forces have used force to break up several protests, both large and small, which erupted as an economic crisis began to bite following the secession of oil-producing south Sudan in July 2011.

A government decision to cut subsidies and adopt other austerity measures last September prompted the worst wave of street protests in years, leaving dozens dead and hundreds jailed.

Reporting by Khalid Abdel Aziz in Khartoum, Writing by Yasmine Saleh in Cairo; Editing by Gareth Jones

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