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Voting Begins in Landmark Sudanese Elections

Voting has begun in southern Sudan today as part of the partially boycotted Sudan's first multiparty general elections in 24 years.

Voting for southern Sudan presidential, legislative and gubernatorial elections began a little late Sunday morning in many parts of the region with people lined up patiently waiting to exercise their voting rights.

Turn out was predictably low in the morning hours of the first of the three-day elections but more people ventured out to polling stations as the day progressed.

Voters had to go through the tedious process of checking their names against voter registration lists mounted on walls before joining the lines to wait their turn at the voting booth.

There was tight security in most polling stations with plainclothes policemen diligently watching over the process. But there were no reports of security problems at polling stations.

Well into the first day of voting, unverified claims of problems surfaced from some remote regions of southern Sudan. In Aweil North county, Northern Bahr-el-Ghazal state, former southern Sudan minister of finance Kuol Athian Mawien told the VOA over the phone that the number of polling stations had been unexpectedly reduced in his constituency.

Mr. Mawien who is running for a seat in the Southern Sudan legislative assembly as an independent candidate also said there were unexplained delays in opening the polling stations.

The main southern political party Sudan People's Liberation Movement (SPLM) is boycotting the national elections, choosing to participate only in southern presidential, legislative and gubernatorial elections. Several other political parties have boycotted by national elections

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