Omar al-Bashir

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Omar al-Bashir
عمر البشير
Omar al-Bashir, 12th AU Summit, 090202-N-0506A-137.jpg
Al-Bashir at an African Union Summit in February 2009.
7th President of Sudan
Incumbent
Assumed office
30 June 1989
Vice President Zubair Mohamed Salih
Ali Osman Taha
John Garang
Salva Kiir Mayardit
Ali Osman Taha
Bakri Hassan Saleh
Preceded by Ahmed al-Mirghani
Personal details
Born Omar Hassan Ahmad al-Bashir
(1944-01-01) 1 January 1944 (age 70)
Hosh Bannaga, Sudan
Political party National Congress
Spouse(s) Fatima Khalid
Widad Babiker Omer
Alma mater Egyptian Military Academy
Religion Sunni Islam
Military service
Allegiance  Sudan
 Egypt
Service/branch Sudanese Army
Egyptian Army
Years of service 1960–2013
Rank  Sudan: Field Marshal
Battles/wars First Sudanese Civil War
Yom Kippur War
Second Sudanese Civil War

Omar Hassan Ahmad al-Bashir (Arabic: عمر حسن أحمد البشير‎; born 1 January 1944) is the President of Sudan and the head of the National Congress Party. He came to power in 1989 when, as a brigadier in the Sudanese army, he led a group of officers in a bloodless military coup that ousted the government of Prime Minister Sadiq al-Mahdi [1] when the country was at the risk of entering a countrywide famine. Since then, he has been elected three times as President in elections that have been under scrutiny for corruption.[2] On 4 March 2009, Sudanese President Omar al Bashir became the first sitting president to be indicted by the ICC for directing a campaign of mass killing, rape, and pillage against civilians in Darfur.[3]


In October 2005, al-Bashir's government negotiated an end to the Second Sudanese Civil War, one of the longest-running and deadliest wars of the 20th century, by granting limited autonomy to Southern Sudan dominated by the Sudan People's Liberation Army (SPLA).[4] Later on, a referendum took place in the South, resulting in the separation of the south into the separate country of South Sudan. In the Darfur region, which has a history of violence between farmers and shepherds for centuries due to the scarcity of water and green land, there has been a violent conflict fueled by neighboring countries Chad and Libya. Chad has related crossover tribes, while in Libya, Muammar Gaddafi hosted and supported the rebels. This has resulted in death tolls that are 10,000 according to the Sudanese Government,[5] but most sources suggest between 200,000[6] and 400,000.[7][8][9] During his presidency, there have been several violent struggles between the Janjaweed militia and rebel groups such as the Sudanese Liberation Army (SLA) and the Justice and Equality Movement (JEM) in the form of guerrilla warfare in the Darfur region. The civil war has displaced[10] over 2.5 million people out of a total population of 6.2 million in Darfur[11] and has created a crisis in the diplomatic relations between Sudan and Chad.[12] The Sudanese-Chadian relationship improved dramatically after Chadian President Idriss Déby visited Khartoum in 2010 and Chad expelled the Darfuri rebels it had previously supported and a joint military border patrol was established.[13] The rebels in Darfur lost the support from Libya after the death of Muammar Gaddafi and the collapse of his regime in 2011.[14][15][16]

In July 2008, the prosecutor of the International Criminal Court (ICC), Luis Moreno Ocampo, accused al-Bashir of genocide, crimes against humanity, and war crimes in Darfur.[17] The court issued an arrest warrant for al-Bashir on 4 March 2009 on counts of war crimes and crimes against humanity, but ruled that there was insufficient evidence to prosecute him for genocide.[18][19] However, on 12 July 2010, the Court issued a second warrant containing three separate counts. The new warrant, as with the first, were delivered to the Sudanese government, which did not recognize it nor the ICC.[19] Al-Bashir is the first sitting head of state indicted by the ICC.[19] The indictments do not allege that Bashir personally took part in such activities. Instead, they say, he is "suspected of being criminally responsible, as an indirect co-perpetrator".[20] Some international experts think it is unlikely that Ocampo has enough evidence.[21] The court's decision is opposed by the African Union, League of Arab States, Non-Aligned Movement, and the governments of Russia and China.[22][23] A leak from WikiLeaks allegedly reveals that the Sudanese president had embezzled state funds amounting to US$9 billion, to which Lloyds Bank of England later rejected as "Lloyds insisted it was not aware of any link with Bashir" while a Sudanese government spokesman said that the claim that the president had taken the cash was "ludicrous" and attacked the motives of the prosecutor.[24] In an interview with the Guardian, al-Bashir said, referring to ICC Prosecuter Ocampo, "The biggest lie was when he said I have $9bn in one of the British banks, and thank God, the British bank and the [British] finance minister ... denied these allegations."[20] The arrest warrant has actively increased public support for al-Bashir in Sudan.[25]

Early and family life[edit]

Al-Bashir was born in Hosh Bannaga, just north of the capital, Khartoum to a family of Arab descent. He belongs to Al-Bedairyya Al-Dahmashyya a Bedouin tribe belongs to the larger ja'alin coalition,[26] an Arab tribe in middle north of Sudan, then part of the Kingdom of Egypt and Sudan. He received his primary education there, and his family later moved to Khartoum where he completed his secondary education. Al-Bashir is married to his cousin Fatima Khalid. He also has a second wife named Widad Babiker Omer, who had a number of children with her first husband Ibrahim Shamsaddin, a member of the Revolutionary Command Council for National Salvation who had died in a helicopter crash. Al-Bashir does not have any children of his own.[27]

Military career[edit]

Al-Bashir joined the Sudanese Army in 1960. Al-Bashir studied at the Egyptian Military Academy in Cairo and also graduated from the Sudan Military Academy in Khartoum in 1966.[28] He quickly rose through the ranks and became a paratroop officer. Later, al-Bashir served in the Egyptian Army during the Yom Kippur War in 1973 against Israel.[29]

In 1975, al-Bashir was sent to the United Arab Emirates as the Sudanese military attaché. After his return home al-Bashir was made a garrison commander. In 1981, al-Bashir returned to his paratroop background when he became the commander of an armoured parachute brigade.[30]

Presidency[edit]

Coup d'état[edit]

When he returned to Sudan as a colonel in the Sudanese Army, al-Bashir led a group of army officers in ousting the unstable coalition government of Prime Minister Sadiq al-Mahdi in a bloodless military coup on 30 June 1989.[1] Under al-Bashir's leadership, the new military government suspended political parties and introduced an Islamic legal code on the national level.[31] He then became Chairman of the Revolutionary Command Council for National Salvation (a newly established body with legislative and executive powers for what was described as a transitional period), and assumed the posts of chief of state, prime minister, chief of the armed forces, and minister of defense.[32] Subsequent to al-Bashir's promotion to the Chairman of the Revolutionary Command Council for National Salvation, he allied himself with Hassan al-Turabi, the leader of the National Islamic Front, who along with al-Bashir began institutionalizing Sharia law in the northern part of Sudan. Further on, al-Bashir issued purges and executions of people whom he alleged to be coup leaders in the upper ranks of the army, the banning of associations, political parties, and independent newspapers and the imprisonment of leading political figures and journalists.[33]

Bashir arrives in the Southern capital Juba, 2011

On 16 October 1993, al-Bashir's powers increased when he appointed himself President of the country, after which he disbanded the Revolutionary Command Council for National Salvation and all other rival political parties. The executive and legislative powers of the council were later given to al-Bashir completely.[34] In the early 1990s, al-Bashir's administration gave the green light to float a new currency called Sudanese Dinar to replace the battered old Sudanese Pound that had lost 90 percent of its worth during the turbulent 1980s, the currency was later changed back to Pounds but at a much higher rate. He was later elected president (with a five-year term) in the 1996 national election, where he was the only candidate by law to run for election[35] and Hassan al-Turabi was elected to a seat in the National Assembly where he served as speaker of the National Assembly "during the 1990s."[36] In 1998, al-Bashir and the Presidential Committee put into effect a new constitution, allowing limited political associations in opposition to al-Bashir's National Congress Party and his supporters to be formed, although these groups failed to gain any significant access to governmental power until the Darfur conflict became a subject. On 12 December 1999, al-Bashir sent troops and tanks against parliament and ousted Hassan al-Turabi, the speaker of parliament, in a palace coup.[37]

Elections[edit]

Al Bashir was elected president (with a five-year term) in the 1996 national election[35] and Hassan al-Turabi was elected to a seat in the National Assembly where he served as speaker of the National Assembly "during the 1990s."[36] In 1998, al-Bashir and the Presidential Committee put into effect a new constitution, allowing limited political associations in opposition to al-Bashir's National Congress Party and his supporters to be formed. On 12 December 1999, al-Bashir sent troops and tanks against parliament and ousted Hassan al-Turabi, the speaker of parliament, in a palace coup.[37]

He was reelected by popular vote for a five-year term in Presidential Elections held 13–23 December 2000.[38]

From 2005 to 2010 there was a transitional government set up under a 2005 peace accord that ended more than two decades of north-south civil war and saw the formation of a power-sharing agreement between Silva Kiir's SPLM and Al Bashir's National Congress Party (NCP).[39]

In the first multi-party election, Al Bashir was reelected president in the 2010 Presidential Election;[40] while Salva Kiir, the leader of the former rebel Sudan People's Liberation Movement (SPLM), won re-election in the presidential poll in what was Sudan's semi-autonomous southern region. These elections were agreed on earlier in the 2005 peace accord that ended more than two decades of north-south civil war.[39]

Bashir won 68% of the popular vote in the 2010 election. However, the election was marked by corruption, intimidation, and inequality. Western observers, from the EU and the Carter Centre, criticised the polls as "not meeting international standards." Candidates opposed to the SPLM said they were often detained, or stopped from campaigning. Sudan Democracy First, an umbrella organisation in the north, put forward what it called strong evidence of rigging by President Bashir's National Congress Party. The Sudanese Network for Democracy and Elections (Sunde) spoke of harassment and intimidation in the south, by the security forces of the SPLM.[2]

Al-Bashir has achieved economic growth in Sudan.[41] This was pushed further by the drilling and extraction of oil.[42] However, economic growth has not been shared by all. Headline inflation in 2012 approached the threshold of chronic inflation (period average 36%), about 11 percentage points up from the budget projection of 2012 reflecting the combined effects of inflationary financing, the depreciation of the exchange rate, and the continued removal of subsidies, as well as high food and energy prices. This economic downturn prompted cost of living riots that erupted into Arab Spring-style anti-government demonstrations; also it aroused the discontent of the Sudanese Worker’s Trade Union Federation (SWTUF), which threatened to hold nationwide strikes in support of higher wages. The continued deterioration in the value of the Sudanese pound (SDG) poses grave downside risks to already soaring inflation. This, coupled with the economic slowdown, presents serious challenges to the implementation of the approved Interim Poverty Reduction Strategy Paper (I-PRSP).[43]

Tensions with Hassan Al-Turabi[edit]

In the mid-1990s, a feud between al-Bashir and al-Turabi began, mostly due to al-Turabi's links to Islamic fundamentalist groups, as well as allowing them to operate out of Sudan, even personally inviting Osama bin Laden to the country.[44] The United States had listed Sudan as a state sponsor of terrorism since 1993,[45] mostly due to al-Bashir and Hassan al-Turabi taking complete power in the early 1990s.[46][47] U.S. firms have been barred from doing business in Sudan since 1997.[48] In 1998, the Al-Shifa pharmaceutical factory in Khartoum was destroyed by a U.S. cruise missile strike because of its alleged production of chemical weapons and links to al-Qaeda. However the U.S. State Department Bureau of Intelligence and Research wrote a report in 1999 questioning the attack on the factory, suggesting that the connection to bin Laden was not accurate; James Risen reported in the New York Times: "Now, the analysts renewed their doubts and told Assistant Secretary of State Phyllis Oakley that the C.I.A.'s evidence on which the attack was based was inadequate. Ms. Oakley asked them to double-check; perhaps there was some intelligence they had not yet seen. The answer came back quickly: There was no additional evidence. Ms. Oakley called a meeting of key aides and a consensus emerged: Contrary to what the Administration was saying, the case tying Al Shifa to Mr. bin Laden or to chemical weapons was weak."[49]

After being re-elected President of Sudan with a five-year-term in the 1996 election with 75.7 percent of the votes,[28] al-Bashir issued the registration of legalised political parties in 1999 after being influenced by al-Turabi. Rival parties such as the Liberal Democrats of Sudan and the Alliance of the Peoples' Working Forces, headed by former Sudanese President Gaafar Nimeiry, were established and were allowed to run for election against al-Bashir's National Congress Party, however, they failed to achieve significant support, and al-Bashir was re-elected President, receiving 86.5 percent of the vote in the 2000 presidential election. At the legislative elections that same year, al-Bashir's National Congress Party won 355 out of 360 seats, with al-Turabi as its chairman. However, after al-Turabi introduced a bill to reduce the president's powers, prompting al-Bashir to dissolve parliament and declare a state of emergency, tensions began to rise between al-Bashir and al-Turabi. Reportedly, al-Turabi was suspended as Chairman of National Congress Party, after he urged a boycott of the President's re-election campaign. Then, a splinter-faction led by al-Turabi, the Popular National Congress Party (PNC) signed an agreement with Sudan People's Liberation Army, which led al-Bashir to believe that they were plotting to overthrow him and the government.[28]

Further on, al-Turabi's influence and that of his party's "'internationalist' and ideological wing" waned "in favor of the 'nationalist' or more pragmatic leaders who focus on trying to recover from Sudan's disastrous international isolation and economic damage that resulted from ideological adventurism."[50] At the same time Sudan worked to appease the United States and other international critics by expelling members of Egyptian Islamic Jihad and encouraging bin Laden to leave.[51]

On al-Bashir's orders, al-Turabi was imprisoned based on allegations of conspiracy in 2000 before being released in October 2003.[52] He was again imprisoned in the Kober (Cooper) prison in Khartoum in March 2004. He was released on 28 June 2005, at the height of the peace agreement in the civil war.

Engagement with the U.S. and western countries[edit]

From the early 1990s when Bashir assumed power, his regime was at odds with larger U.S. foreign policy in the region. Sudan backed Iraq in its invasion of Kuwait and was accused of harboring and providing sanctuary and assistance to Islamic terrorist groups. From the early 1990s, Carlos the Jackal, Osama bin Laden, Abu Nidal and other United States' and allies labeled 'terrorist leaders' resided in Khartoum. Sudan's role in the radical Pan-Arab Islamic Conference, spearheaded by Hassan al-Turabi, represented a matter of great concern to the security of American officials and dependents in Khartoum, resulting in several reductions and evacuations of U.S. personnel from Khartoum in the early to mid 1990s.[citation needed]

Sudan's Islamist links with international terrorist organizations represented a special matter of concern for the U.S. Government, leading to Sudan's 1993 designation as a state sponsor of terrorism and a suspension of U.S. Embassy operations in Khartoum in 1996. In late 1994, in an initial effort to reverse his nation's growing image throughout the world as a terrorist-harboring country, Bashir secretly cooperated with French special forces to orchestrate the capture and arrest on Sudanese soil of Carlos the Jackal.[53]

Sudan's offer of and request for counter-terrorism assistance, April 1997

In early 1996, Bashir authorized his Defense Minister at the time, El Fatih Erwa, to make a series of secret trips to the United States [54] to hold talks with US officials, including officers of the CIA and United States Department of State about US sanctions policy against Sudan and what measures might be taken by the Bashir regime to remove the sanctions. Erwa was presented with a series of demands from the United States, including demands for information about Osama bin Laden and other radical Islamic groups. The US demand list also encouraged Bashir's regime to move away from activities, such as hosting the "PAIC" Islamic Conference, that impinged on Sudanese efforts to reconcile with the West. Sudan's Mukhabarat (central intelligence agency) spent half a decade amassing intelligence data on bin Laden and a wide array of Islamists through their periodic annual visits for the PAIC conferences.[55] In May 1996, after the series of Erwa secret meetings on US soil, the Clinton Administration demanded that Sudan expel bin Laden. Bashir complied.[56]

Controversy erupted about whether Sudan had offered to extradite bin Laden in return for rescinding US sanctions that were interfering with Sudan's plans to develop oil fields in southern areas of the country. US officials insisted the secret meetings were agreed only to pressure Sudan into compliance on a range of anti-terrorism issues. The Sudanese insisted that an offer to extradite bin Laden had been made in a secret one-on-one meeting at a Fairfax hotel between Erwa and the then CIA Africa Bureau chief on condition that Washington end sanctions against Bashir's regime. Amb. Timothy M. Carney attended one of the Fairfax hotel meetings. In a joint opinion piece in the Washington Post Outlook Section in 2003, Carney and Ijaz argued that in fact the Sudanese had offered to extradite bin Laden to a third country in exchange for sanctions relief [57]

In August 1996, American hedge-fund manager Mansoor Ijaz traveled to the Sudan and met with senior officials including Turabi and Bashir. Ijaz asked Sudanese officials to share intelligence data with US officials on bin Laden and other Islamists who had traveled to and from the Sudan during the previous five years. Ijaz conveyed his findings to US officials upon his return, including Sandy Berger, then Clinton's deputy national security adviser, and argued for the US to constructively engage the Sudanese and other Islamic countries.[58] In April 1997, Ijaz persuaded Bashir to make an unconditional offer of counterterrorism assistance in the form of a signed presidential letter that Ijaz delivered to Congressman Lee H. Hamilton by hand.[59]

In October 1997, months after the Sudanese overture (made by Bashir in the letter to Hamilton), the U.S. State Department, under Sec. of State Madeleine Albright's directive, first announced it would return US diplomats to Khartoum to pursue counterterrorism data in the Mukhabarat's possession, and then within days, reversed that decision and imposed harsher and more comprehensive economic, trade, and financial sanctions against the Sudan. In August 1998, in the wake of the East Africa embassy bombings, the U.S. launched cruise missile strikes against Khartoum. The last U.S. Ambassador to the Sudan, Ambassador Tim Carney, departed post prior to this event and no new ambassador has been designated since. The U.S. Embassy is headed by a charge d'affaires.

South Sudan[edit]

Civil war had raged between the northern and southern halves of the country for over 19 years between the northern Arab tribes and southern African tribes, but the war soon effectively developed into a struggle between the Sudan People's Liberation Army and al-Bashir's government. The war resulted in millions of southerners being displaced, starved, and deprived of education and health care, with almost two million casualties.[60] Because of these actions, various international sanctions were placed on Sudan. International pressure intensified in 2001, however, and leaders from the United Nations called for al-Bashir to make efforts to end the conflict and allow humanitarian and international workers to deliver relief to the southern regions of Sudan.[61] Much progress was made throughout 2003. The peace was consolidated with the official signing by both sides of the Nairobi Comprehensive Peace Agreement January 9, 2005, granting Southern Sudan autonomy for six years, to be followed by a referendum about independence. It created a co-vice president position and allowed the north and south to split oil deposits equally, but also left both the north's and south's armies in place. John Garang, the south's peace agreement appointed co-vice president died in a helicopter crash on 1 August 2005, three weeks after being sworn in.[62] This resulted in riots, but the peace was eventually re-established[63] and allowed the southerners to vote in a referendum of independence at the end of the six-year period.[64] On 9 July 2011, following a referendum, the region of Southern Sudan separated into an independent country known as South Sudan.

War in Darfur[edit]

Main article: War in Darfur

Since 1968, Sudanese politicians had attempted to create separate factions of "Africans" and "Arabs" in the western area of Darfur, a difficult task as the population were substantially intermarried and could not be distinguished by skin tone. This internal political instability was aggravated by cross-border conflicts with Chad and Libya[65] and the 1984-85 Darfur famine[66] In 2003, the rebel Justice and Equality Movement and the Sudanese Liberation Army, accusing the government of neglecting Darfur and oppressing non-Arabs in favor of Arabs, began an armed insurgency.

Estimates vary of the number of deaths resulting from attacks on the non-Arab/Arabized population by the Janjaweed militia: the Sudanese government claim that up to 10,000 have been killed in this conflict; the United Nations reported that about 300,000 had died as of 2010,[6] and other reports place the figures at between 200,000 and 400,000.[5] During an interview with David Frost for the Al Jazeera English programme Frost Over The World in June 2008, al-Bashir insisted that no more than 10,000 had died in Darfur.[67]

The Sudanese government has been accused of suppressing information by jailing and killing witnesses since 2004, and tampering with evidence, such as covering up mass graves.[68][69][70] The Sudanese government has also arrested and harassed journalists, thus limiting the extent of press coverage of the situation in Darfur.[71][72][73][74] While the United States government has described the conflict as genocide,[75] the UN has not recognized the conflict as such.[76] (see List of declarations of genocide in Darfur).

The United States Government stated in September 2004 "that genocide has been committed in Darfur and that the Government of Sudan and the Janjaweed bear responsibility and that genocide may still be occurring."[77] On 29 June 2004, U.S. Secretary of State Colin Powell met with al-Bashir in Sudan and urged him to make peace with the rebels, end the crisis, and lift restrictions on the delivery of humanitarian aid to Darfur.[78] Kofi Annan met with al-Bashir three days later and demanded that he disarm the Janjaweed.[79]

In March 2007, the African Union – United Nations Hybrid Operation in Darfur accused Sudan's government of taking part in "gross violations" in Darfur and called for urgent international action to protect civilians there. After fighting stopped in July and August, on 31 August 2006, the United Nations Security Council approved Resolution 1706 which called for a new 20,600-troop UN peacekeeping force called UNAMID to supplant or supplement a poorly funded and ill-equipped 7,000-troop African Union Mission in Sudan peacekeeping force. Sudan strongly objected to the resolution and said that it would see the UN forces in the region as foreign invaders.[citation needed] The next day, the Sudanese military launched a major offensive in the region.[citation needed] A high-level technical consultation was held in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, on 11–12 June 2007, pursuant to the 4 June 2007 letters of the Secretary-General and the Chairperson of the African Union Commission, which were addressed to al-Bashir.[80] The technical consultations were attended by delegations from the Government of Sudan, the African Union and the United Nations.[81][82]

In 2009, General Martin Luther Agwai, head of the joint African Union – United Nations Operation, said the war was over in the region, although low-level disputes remained. "Banditry, localised issues, people trying to resolve issues over water and land at a local level. But real war as such, I think we are over that," he said.[83] This perspective is completely contradicted by reports that indicate that violence continues in Darfur while peace efforts have been stalled repeatedly. Violence between Sudan’s military and rebel fighters has beset Southern Kordofan and Blue Nile states since disputed state elections in May 2011, an ongoing humanitarian crisis that has prompted international condemnation and U.S. congressional hearings. In 2012, tensions between Sudan and South Sudan reached a boiling point when the Sudanese military bombed territory in South Sudan, leading to hostilities over the disputed Heglig (or Panthou) oil fields located along the Sudan-South Sudan border.[84] Omar al-Bashir sought the assistance of numerous non western countries after the West, led by America, imposed sanctions against him, he said- "From the first day, our policy was clear: To look eastward, toward China, Malaysia, India, Pakistan, Indonesia, and even Korea and Japan, even if the Western influence upon some [of these] countries is strong. We believe that the Chinese expansion was natural because it filled the space left by Western governments, the United States, and international funding agencies. The success of the Sudanese experiment in dealing with China without political conditions or pressures encouraged other African countries to look toward China."[85]

Chadian President Idriss Deby visited Khartoum in 2010 and Chad kicked out the Darfuri rebels it had previously supported. Both Sudanese and Chadian sides together established a joint military border patrol.[13]

On October 26, 2011, Al Bashir said that Sudan gave military support to the Libyan rebels, who overthrew Muammar Gaddafi. In a speech broadcast live on state television, Bashir said the move was in response to Col Gaddafi's support for Sudanese rebels three years ago. Sudan and Libya have had a complicated and frequently antagonistic relationship for many years. President Bashir said the Justice and Equality Movement (JEM), a Darfuri rebel group, had attacked Khartoum three years ago using Libyan trucks, equipment, arms, ammunition and money. He said God had given Sudan a chance to respond, by sending arms, ammunition and humanitarian support to the Libyan revolutionaries. "Our God, high and exalted, from above the seven skies, gave us the opportunity to reciprocate the visit," he said. "The forces which entered Tripoli, part of their arms and capabilities, were 100% Sudanese," he told the crowd. His speech was well received by a large crowd in the eastern Sudanese town of Kassala. But the easy availability of weapons in Libya, and that country's porous border with Darfur, are also of great concern to the Sudanese authorities.[86]

Al Bashir in his speech said that his government’s priority was to end the armed rebellion and tribal conflicts in order to save blood and direct the energies of young people towards building Sudan instead of “killing and destruction”. He called upon youth of the rebel groups to lay down arms and join efforts to build the country.[87] Al Bashir sees himself as a man wronged and misunderstood. He takes full responsibility for the conflict in Darfur, he says, but says that his government did not start the fighting and has done everything in its power to end it.[20]

Al Bashir has signed two peace agreements for Darfur:

The agreement also provided for power sharing at the national level: movements that sign the agreement will be entitled to nominate two ministers and two four ministers of state at the federal level and will be able to nominate 20 members to the national legislature. The movements will be entitled to nominate two state governors in the Darfur region.[92]

Indictment by the ICC[edit]

Al-Bashir is accused of directing attacks against civilians in Darfur.

On 14 July 2008, the Chief Prosecutor of the International Criminal Court (ICC), Luis Moreno Ocampo, alleged that al-Bashir bore individual criminal responsibility for genocide, crimes against humanity and war crimes committed since 2003 in Darfur.[17] The prosecutor accused al-Bashir of having "masterminded and implemented" a plan to destroy the three main ethnic groups, the Fur, Masalit and Zaghawa, with a campaign of murder, rape and deportation. The arrest warrant is supported by NATO, the Genocide Intervention Network, and Amnesty International.

An arrest warrant for al-Bashir was issued on 4 March 2009 by a Pre-Trial chamber composed of judges Akua Kuenyehia of Ghana, Anita Usacka of Latvia, and Sylvia Steiner of Brazil[93] indicting him on five counts of crimes against humanity (murder, extermination, forcible transfer, torture and rape) and two counts of war crimes (pillaging and intentionally directing attacks against civilians).[18][94] The court ruled that there was insufficient evidence to prosecute him for genocide.[19][95] However, one of the three judges wrote a dissenting opinion arguing that there were "reasonable grounds to believe that Omar Al Bashir has committed the crime of genocide."[95]

International Criminal Court Prosecutor Luis Moreno-Ocampo told U.S. State Department officials on March 20, 2009 that President Bashir 'needed to be isolated.' Ocampo suggested that if Bashir's stash of money were disclosed (he put the figure at possibly $9 billion), it would change Sudanese public opinion from him being a “crusader” to that of a thief.[96]

Sudan is not a state party to the Rome Statute establishing the ICC, and thus claims that it does not have to execute the warrant. However, United Nations Security Council Resolution 1593 (2005) referred Sudan to the ICC, which gives the Court jurisdiction over international crimes committed in Sudan and obligates the State to cooperate with the ICC,[97] and therefore the Court, Amnesty International and others insist that Sudan must comply with the arrest warrant of the International Criminal Court.[19][98] Amnesty International stated that al-Bashir must turn himself in to face the charges, and that the Sudanese authorities must detain him and turn him over to the ICC if he refuses.[99]

Al-Bashir is the first sitting head of state ever indicted by the ICC.[19] However, the Arab League[100] and the African Union condemned the warrant. Al-Bashir has since visited Egypt and Qatar. Both countries refused to arrest him and surrender him to the ICC upon arrival. ICC member state Chad also refused to arrest al-Bashir during a state visit in July 2010.[101] Luis Moreno Ocampo and Amnesty International claimed that al-Bashir's plane could be intercepted in International Airspace. Sudan announced that the presidential plane would always be escorted by fighter jets of the Sudanese Air Force to prevent his arrest. In March 2009, just before Bashir's visit to Qatar, the Sudanese government was reportedly considering sending fighter jets to accompany his plane to Qatar, possibly in response to France expressing support for an operation to intercept his plane in international airspace, as France has military bases in Djibouti and the United Arab Emirates, and could have sent fighter jets to intercept his plane.[102]

The charges against al-Bashir have been criticised and ignored by interests in Sudan and abroad, particularly in Africa and the Muslim world. Former president of Libya and former Chairman of the African Union Muammar al-Gaddafi characterized the indictment as a form of terrorism. He also believed that the warrant is an attempt "by (the west) to recolonise their former colonies."[103] Egypt said, it was "greatly disturbed" by the ICC decision and called for an emergency meeting of the UN security council to defer the arrest warrant.[104] The Arab League Secretary-General Amr Moussa expressed that the organization emphasizes its solidarity with Sudan. The ICC warrant was condemned for "undermining the unity and stability of Sudan."[105] The Organisation of Islamic Cooperation denounced the warrant as unwarranted and totally unacceptable. It argued that the warrant demonstrated "selectivity and double standard applied in relation to issues of war crimes".[106] There have been large demonstrations by Sudanese people supporting President Bashir and opposing the ICC charges.[107] Russian presidential envoy for Sudan Mikhail Margelov argued in 2009 that the warrant "sets a dangerous precedent in international relations" and "could hamper efforts to bring peace to Sudan".[108]

Al-Bashir has rejected the charges, saying "Whoever has visited Darfur, met officials and discovered their ethnicities and tribes ... will know that all of these things are lies."[109] He described the charges as "not worth the ink they are written in."[110] The warrant will be delivered to the Sudanese government, which has stated that it will not carry it out.[19][97][98]

The Sudanese government retaliated against the warrant by expelling a number of international aid agencies, including Oxfam and Mercy Corps.[111] President Bashir described the aid agencies as thieves who take "99 percent of the budget for humanitarian work themselves, giving the people of Darfur 1 percent" and as spies in the work of foreign regimes. Bashir promised that national agencies will provide aid to Darfur.[112]

During a visit to Egypt, al-Bashir was not arrested, leading to condemnation by Amnesty International. In October 2009, al-Bashir was invited to Uganda by President Yoweri Museveni for an African Union meeting in Kampala, but did not attend after protest by several NGOs. On October 23, 2009, al-Bashir was invited to Nigeria by President Umaru Yar'Adua for another AU meeting, and was not arrested. In November, he was invited to Turkey for an OIC meeting.[113] Later, he was invited to Denmark to attend conferences on climate change in Copenhagen.[114]

Al-Bashir was one of the candidates in the 2010 Sudanese presidential election, the first democratic election with multiple political parties participating in decades.[115][116] It had been suggested that by holding and winning a legitimate presidential elections in 2010, al-Bashir had hoped to evade the ICC's warrant for his arrest.[117] On April 26, he was officially declared the winner after Sudan's election commission announced he had received 68% of the votes cast in the election.[118] However, The New York Times noted the voting was "marred by boycotts and reports of intimidation and widespread fraud."[119]

Al-Bashir visited Kenya on 27 August 2010 to witness the President signing Kenya's new constitution into law.[120][121] In May 2011, al-Bashir visited Djibouti to attend the inauguration of President Ismail Omar Guelleh's third term.[122] In June of the same year, China's president Hu received al-Bashir as "friend and brother" in Beijing, fostering China's interests in Sudan's resources.[123] Al-Bashir was received in Libya along with a high-level delegation in January 2012 in a bid to restore friendly relations and offer support to the new Libyan government after the fall of Gaddafi.[124][125]

In July 2013, Omar al-Bashir arrived in Nigeria for an African Union summit only to leave the country less than 24 hours later amid calls for his arrest.[126] In August 2013, Bashir's plane was blocked from entering Saudi Arabian airspace when Bashir was attempting to attend the inauguration of Iranian President Hassan Rouhani,[127] whose country is the main supplier of weapons to Sudan.[128]

A second arrest warrant for President al-Bashir was later issued on July 12, 2010. The ICC issued an additional warrant adding 3 counts of genocide for the ethnic cleansing of the Fur, Masalit, and Zaghawa tribes.[129] The new warrant included the Court's conclusion that there were reasonable grounds to suspect that (Omar al-Bashir) acted with specific intent to destroy in part the Fur, Masalit and Zaghawa ethnic groups in the troubled Darfur region.[130] The ICC released a further statement saying that al-Bashir's charges now include "genocide by killing, genocide by causing serious bodily or mental harm and genocide by deliberately inflicting on each target group conditions of life calculated to bring about the group's physical destruction" in three separate counts. The new warrant will act as a supplement to the first, whereby the charges initially brought against al-Bashir will all remain in place, but will now include the crime of genocide which was ruled out initially, pending appeal.

On 28 August 2010 in Nairobi, the authorities in Kenya chose not to arrest Al-Bashir on International Criminal Court (ICC) charges of genocide when he arrived for a ceremony for the new Kenyan constitution. Al-Bashir was escorted into Nairobi's Uhuru Park, where the signing ceremony was taking place, by Tourism minister Najib Balala. On 28 November 2011, Kenya's High Court Judge Nicholas Ombija ordered the Minister of Internal Security to arrest al-Bashir, "should he set foot in Kenya in the future."[131]

Additionally, Chad and Djibouti continue to allow Bashir to travel freely into their country despite being parties to the Rome Statute of the International Criminal Court[129]

Al Bashir said that Sudan is not a party to the ICC treaty and could not be expected to abide by its provisions just like the United States, China and Russia. He said "It is a political issue and double standards, because there are obvious crimes like Palestine, Iraq and Afghanistan, but [they] did not find their way to the international criminal court". He added "The same decision in which [the] Darfur case [was] being transferred to the court stated that the American soldiers [in Iraq and Afghanistan] would not be questioned by the court, so it is not about justice, it is a political issue." Al Bashir accused Luis Moreno Ocampo, the ICC's chief prosecutor since 2003, of repeatedly lying in order to damage his reputation and standing. Al Bashir said "The behaviour of the prosecutor of the court, it was clearly the behaviour of a political activist not a legal professional. He is now working on a big campaign to add more lies." He added "The biggest lie was when he said I have $9bn in one of the British banks, and thank God, the British bank and the [British] finance minister … denied these allegations." He also said: "The clearest cases in the world such as Palestine and Iraq and Afghanistan, clear crimes to the whole humanity – all were not transferred to the court."[20]

In October 2013, several members of the African Union expressed anger at the ICC, calling it "racist" for failing to file charges against Western leaders or Western allies while prosecuting only African suspects so far. The African Union demanded that the ICC protect African heads of state from prosecution.[132]

Allegations of corruption[edit]

Al-Bashir's long career has been riddled with war. Despite his pledge to end the 21-year civil war that had been carrying on when he took office in 1989, further conflict continued after that he prolonged. During the frequent fighting, Al-Bashir allegedly looted the impoverished nation of much of its wealth. According to leaked US diplomatic cables, $9 billion of his siphoned wealth was stashed in London banks. Luis Moreno-Ocampo, the chief prosecutor, stated that some of the funds were being held in the part-nationalize Lloyds Banking Group. He also reportedly told US officials it was necessary to go public with the scale of Al-Bashir's extortion to turn public opinion against him.[133]

"Ocampo suggested if Bashir's stash of money were disclosed (he put the figure at $9bn), it would change Sudanese public opinion from him being a 'crusader' to that of a thief," one US official stated. "Ocampo reported Lloyds bank in London may be holding or knowledgeable of the whereabouts of his money," the report says. "Ocampo suggested exposing Bashir had illegal accounts would be enough to turn the Sudanese against him." [134]

Darfur has been strife with conflict since 2003, when rebels took up arms against the Sudanese government, accusing it of discriminating and neglecting the needs of the region, as well as extorting of state funds. The government is accused of retaliating with ethnic Arab forces on the area, which the government ardently denies. The U.N. estimates 300,000 people have been killed and roughly 2.7 million have been displaced in the war. Union peacekeepers began occupying Darfur in 2005 and were later reinforced by additional UN troops in 2007. The peacekeeping force has been frequently attacked although violence as a whole has declined. The occupying force has limited Al-Bashir's ability to extort funds.[135]

African aerospace agency[edit]

In 2012 Bashir proposed setting up a continent wide space agency in Africa. In a statement he said; "I'm calling for the biggest project, an African space agency. Africa must have its space agency. It will liberate Africa from technological domination". This followed previous calls in 2010 by the African Union (AU) to conduct a feasibility study that would draw up a "roadmap for the creation of the African space agency". African astronomy received a massive boost when South Africa was awarded the lion's share of the Square Kilometre Array, the world's biggest radio telescope. It will see dishes erected in nine African countries. But skeptics have questioned whether a continental body in the style of NASA or the European Space Agency would be affordable.[136]

See also[edit]

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External links[edit]

Political offices
Preceded by
Ahmad al-Mirghani
President of Sudan
1993–present
Incumbent