Electoral staff display informative posters at the entrance of a polling station in Al-Fasher, in North Darfur. / AFP / ASHRAF SHAZLY
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Sudan's conflict-hit Darfur region starts voting Monday on whether to unify its five states, a long-standing demand of rebels seeking greater autonomy, but ongoing instability means insurgents are boycotting the referendum.The three-day vote is expected to maintain the five-state system, which President Omar al-Bashir's ruling party says is more efficient but which observers say gives Khartoum greater control over Darfur.The ethnic minority insurgents who rebelled against the Arab-dominated government in 2003 claiming their region was being marginalized say the vote cannot be fair because of ongoing fighting.Holding the vote while the government controls much of Darfur and is able to mobilize its supporters may also be a bid to counter the rebels' calls for a united, autonomous Darfur.
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