A SUDANESE refugee will be the “happiest man in the world” when he votes in his first Scottish Parliament election today.

Salah Komi, 45, from the Nuba Mountains area of Sudan, arrived in Stirling nearly two years ago as part of the Syrian Refugee Resettlement Scheme.

Last year Holyrood passed a new law extending the right to vote in Scottish elections to people aged over 16 who are living in Scotland, including those with refugee status.

For many refugees, including Salah, today will be their first opportunity to cast their vote in a democratic election.

The 45-year-old said: “I’m really looking forward to voting on Thursday and it will be really pleasing to have a say on what government we elect - I’ll be the happiest man in the world!

“In Sudan we didn’t have such a process for election, but I know how to vote and the processes involved by attending some sessions, reading things online and watching a lot of the debates and TV programmes.”

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Stirling Council’s Learning and Employability team have been running workshops for new voters alongside Forth Valley Welcome, the Scottish Refugee Council and the Electoral Commission.

The council’s senior manager of economic development and communities, Stuart Oliver, said it is “fantastic” that resettled refugees in the area can now vote.

“You can tell how much this means to Salah and the other families, and it will make them feel a greater part of our communities where they make such a significant and positive contribution,” he said.

“Ahead of the election we have collaborated with a number of organisations to help our resettled families in Stirling understand the voting process to ensure they can fully exercise their democratic right.”

Eleven families who have been displaced by the Syrian crisis and violence in Sudan are living, working and studying in Stirling.

READ MORE: 'In Syria I can’t remember voting’: Refugee tells how he is embracing Scottish democracy

Since arriving in 2018, Salah has been volunteering with his local food bank and attending classes with the council, Stirling School of English and Forth Valley College.

Starting in August, Salah will be studying on the access to degree studies programme at Stirling University, and hopes to secure a career in IT after completing the course.

The 45-year-old feels positive about his life in Stirling and Scotland as a whole.

“As soon as I arrived in Scotland, I felt at home as it is similar to where I was born in the Nuba Mountains in Sudan. Like here, the landscape there is very green and I hope to remain here forever,” he said.

“The people here are very supportive to you and if I you have a problem, they reach out to you, so it’s a really nice atmosphere.”