Khartoum: Sudanese President Omar al-Bashir said Wednesday elections slated for April and widely expected to extend his rule must go ahead on schedule to preserve stability, despite opposition calls for a delay.
Opposition parties are demanding greater political freedoms before the elections for Sudan`s presidency and parliament that are set to start on April 13.
"Maintaining the integrity and stability of the country requires that the elections take place at their appointed time," Bashir said in a speech at Khartoum`s presidential palace on the eve of Sudan`s independence day celebrations.
Bashir, 70, seized power in a 1989 coup and was elected president in a 2010 vote marred by opposition boycotts and with monitors saying it failed to meet international standards.
"We say to those who ask how the elections can take place when the country is suffering from crises: when the 2010 elections took place, was the country not suffering?" Bashir asked.
His rule saw South Sudan separate from Khartoum in 2011 under a peace deal that ended 22 years of civil war.
Juba took most of the formerly united country`s oil production when it split, hitting Sudan`s economy badly.
Bashir is also facing rebellions in the western Darfur region, and in the Blue Nile and South Kordofan areas.
He is wanted by the International Criminal Court for alleged war crimes in Darfur.
Last January, Bashir called for a national dialogue involving political parties and armed groups to tackle the country`s troubled economy and resolve the conflicts in its south and west.