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First Day of Voting Ends in Sudan

Polls closed in the first of three-days of voting in Sudan's election - amid reports of missing ballots, delayed openings and confusion among election workers and voters. Polling officials are promising a better day Monday in the country's first multi-party elections in 24 years.

Casting his vote in the southern capital of Juba, southern Sudan leader Salvar Kiir Mayardit told reporters he was hopeful that the elections would bring a democratization process in southern Sudan.

But in southern Sudan as elsewhere in the nation, reports of confusion among election workers, missing ballots and delayed opening marred the first day of voting.

Some voters failed to cast their votes Sunday in Juba town after their names were moved to different polling stations, forcing them to search for where they were supposed to vote.

The former rebel group the Sudan People's Liberation Movement that leads southern Sudan has boycotted the national elections, choosing only to participate in its regional presidential, legislative and gubernatorial contests.

Turnout was low and slow in the morning hours of the first day. Those who managed to vote early said they were happy with the process. Garang Deng voted at mid-morning at a polling station in Juba town. "It feels the privilege of being a citizen, it feels you (are) exercising your constitutional rights. Above all, it feels we are taking a step towards the referendum. To me the process was not that complicated, but for many southern Sudanese it is very difficult. It is quite a challenge," he said.

Some voters in southern Sudan were victims of poor logistics, failing to travel to remote home districts where they had registered to vote.

Christopher Garang was forced to miss the voting because he could not travel to his home state of Bahr el-Ghazal. "The reason I have not voted is that I was registered in Bahr el-Ghazal where I was born, but because of transportation challenges I could not travel on Friday. My state is about 1,000 kilometers from Juba," he said.

Elections officials say they hope the second day of voting Monday will be smoother.

SPLM leader Salva Kiir, who is also the Sudanese First Vice President, is running for the presidency of southern Sudan, where he is expected to handily win against his opponent Lam Akol.