Sudanese President Omar al-Bashir yesterday pledged to bolster rural development, as he seeks to face down anti-government demonstrations that have rocked cities and villages.
The veteran leader has been on a charm offensive with rallies across the country in a bid to head off weeks of protests seen as the biggest threat to his 30-year rule.
Addressing hundreds of villagers in North Kordofan state at a televised event he promised to bring clean drinking water to rural areas "across Sudan" and open a new hospital in the region.
The speech came after he inaugurated a new 340-kilometre (210 miles) highway linking North Kordofan to Omdurman, the twin city of Khartoum.
"Building such a road in present economic conditions is not an easy thing to achieve," said Bashir, after being escorted to the stage by dozens of men on camels.