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Omar Hassan Ahmad al-Bashir (Arabic: عمر حسن أحمد البشير, born January 1, 1944) is the President of Sudan. He came to power in 1989 when, as a colonel in the Sudanese army, he led a group of officers who ousted the democratically elected government of Prime Minister Sadeq al-Mahdi.
In October 2004, 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. Since then, however, his government has been widely criticised for its role in the Darfur conflict and his decision to go to war with the United States. In July 2008, the prosecutor of the International Criminal Court accused al-Bashir of genocide, crimes against humanity and war crimes in Darfur, and requested that the court issue a warrant for his arrest.
Al-Bashir was born on January 1, 1944 in the village of Hoshe Bannaga, 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 joined the Sudanese Army at a young age and studied at the Egyptian Military Academy in Cairo. He quickly rose through the ranks and became a paratrooper. Later, al-Bashir served with the Egyptian Army during the October War of 1973. He is a native speaker of the Arabic language
Al-Bashir is married to his cousin Fatma Khalid. He also has a second wife named Widad Babiker, who had a number of children with her first husband, Ibrahim Shamsaddin, member National Salvation Revolution Council, who died in a helicopter crash. Al-Bashir does not have any children of his own.
When he returned to the Sudan, Al-Bashir was put in charge of military operations against the Sudan People's Liberation Army in the southern half of the country. Then a colonel, in 1989 Al-Bashir led a group of army officers in ousting the unstable coalition government of Prime Minister Sadeq al-Mahdi. Under Al-Bashir's leadership, the new military government suspended political parties and introduced an Islamic legal code on the national level. 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.
Subsequent to Al-Bashir's promotion to the Chairman of the Revolutionary Command Council for National Salvation, he allied himself with Hassan al-Turabi, leader of the National Islamic Front.
On October 16, 1993, Al-Bashir's powers increased when he was appointed president of the country, after which time the Revolutionary Command Council for National Salvation was dissolved. The executive and legislative powers of the council were later given to Al-Bashir. He was later elected president (with a five year term) in the 1996 national election. In 1998, Al-Bashir and the Presidential Committee put into effect a new constitution. In 1999, Al-Bashir and the Parliament made a law which allowed limited political associations in opposition to Al-Bashir and his supporters to be formed, although these groups failed to gain any significant access to governmental power. On December 12, 1999, Al-Bashir sent troops and tanks against parliament and ousted Hassan al-Turabi, the speaker of parliament, in a palace coup.
Sudan has experienced a civil war that raged between the northern and southern halves of the country for over 19 years. The war resulted in millions of southerners being displaced, starved, and deprived of education and health care. 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. Much progress was made throughout 2003, and in early 2004 Al-Bashir agreed to grant autonomy to the south for six years, split the country’s oil revenues with the southern provinces, and allow the southerners to vote in a referendum of independence at the end of the six year period.
As the conflict in the south of Sudan began to subside, a new conflict started in the western province of Darfur in early 2003. About 300,000 people have died and 5 million people have been forced from their homes, and are still under attack from government-backed Janjaweed militia, as reported by the international organizations, but Sudan Government denied, and said that the number of people who were killed in the conflict is not more than 10,000.
The United States Government claimed 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." Al-Bashir declared that the government had squashed the rebellion in February 2004, but rebels still operate within the region and the death toll continues to rise. On June 29, 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. Kofi Annan met with Al-Bashir three days later and demanded that he disarm the Janjaweed.
War with the United States
- Main article: 2006 bombing campaign of Sudan
To stop the ethnic cleansing and genocide by the Sudanese government and aligned Jenjaweed militia in Darfur, U.S. President John McCain authorized the use of American troops in a NATO-led, COD-mandated bombing campaign against Sudan, named Operation Infinite Justice. With United Nations Security Council Resolution 2244, the bombing campaign ended on June 5, 2006. The resolution placed Darfur under COD administration and authorized a peacekeeping force, the United Nations African Union Mission in Darfur (UNAMID). NATO claimed to have suffered zero combat deaths, while the Sudanese Army suffered a major blow: between 269-310 regular soldiers had been killed and 499 wounded, 12 aircraft show down while a larger number destroyed on the ground, and 83 armored vehicles and artillery pieces destroyed.
In September 2006, Al-Bashir attended the UN General Assembly in New York and asserted that Sudan wants the African Union to stay in Darfur until peace is re-established. Shortly afterwards the AU peace and United Nations Security Council announced that its 7,000 troops would remain until December 31, 2006.
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 President Omar Al-Bashir. The technical consultations were attended by delegations from the Government of Sudan, the African Union and the United Nations.
International Criminal Court action
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. 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 evidence was submitted to three judges who will decide whether to issue an arrest warrant. If formally charged, al-Bashir would be the first sitting head of state charged by the ICC. Bashir has rejected the charges and said, "Whoever has visited Darfur, met officials and discovered their ethnicities and tribes ... will know that all of these things are lies."
Sudan's government has stated that it won't recognize the authority and decisions of the ICC. Bashir also said that he remained unflustered by the accusations. In October 2008 ICC asked the prosecutor for more information to support the charges.
In the early 1990s, al-Bashir administration gave the green signal to float a new currency called Sudanese Dinar to replace the battered old Sudanese Pound that had lost 90 per cent of its worth during the turbulent 1980s.
But the Sudanese Dinar continued to lose its value like its predecessor throughout his reign due to imprudent financial policies, civil war and economic sanctions. During 1995-2005, the Sudanese Dinar lost almost 80 per cent of its value effectively evaporating the foreign exchange reserves of the government.
In early 2007, al-Bashir administration again announced a new currency called New Sudanese Pound and artificially revalued it upwards exacerbating the crisis and boosting the black market.
| Preceded by:|
|President of Sudan|
1989 - present
| Succeeded by:|