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Sudan - Omer Hassan Ahmed Al-Bashir

Sudanese president Omar al Bashir was ousted by the army on 11 April 2019, brought down by months of anti-government protests against his three decades of iron-fisted rule. "I announce as minister of defence the toppling of the regime and detaining its chief in a secure place," Defence Minister Awad Ibn Ouf said in a sombre televised address to the nation. Ibn Ouf said the government and the presidency were dissolved and a transitional military council would replace Bashir for two years. "Free and fair elections" will take place after the two years, the defence minister added. The country's borders and airspace would be shut until further notice, he said.

The veteran leader, who swept to power in a 1989 coup, was one of Africa's longest-serving presidents. Bashir is wanted on charges of genocide and war crimes by the International Criminal Court. He was removed from power after nearly four months of popular protests against his rule.

Omer Hassan Ahmed Al-Bashir

  • Rank: Marshall.
  • Place of Birth: Hosh Wad Banaga – Shendi, River Nile State.
  • Date of Birth: 1/1/1944.
  • Social status: Married.

The Units he worked in

  • The Western Command.
  • The Air-Born Forces.
  • Commander of the Eight Brigade.
  • Seconded to the United Arab Emirates.

Military Qualifications

  • All the set deterministic Military Courses.
  • Parashuting Instructors Course.
  • Master Degree in Military Science (P.S.C) (Staff College), Malaysia.
  • Military Training Course – Pakistan.
  • Higher Military Training – Naser Military Academy.
  • Fellow, Sudan Academy for Administrative Sciences.
  • M. Sc. (Social Sciences), University of Gezira.

Orders and Decorations he was awarded

  • The Revolution Order.
  • The Victory Order.
  • The Perseverance Order.
  • The National Unity Medal.
  • 6th October Decoration – Egypt Arab Republic.
  • The Bravery Medal.
  • The Excellent Long Service Medal.
  • The Honour Decoration.

The Posts Occupied

  • President, Command Council, the National Salvation Revolution, 30 June 1989.
  • President of the Republic, 16 October 1993.
  • Elected President of the Republic, 01 April 1996.
  • Elected President of the Republic, (Second term), 12 February 2001.
  • Appointed President of the Republic, (Third term), 09 April 2005.
  • Elected President of the Republic, (First term), 11 April 2010.
  • Elected President of the Republic, (Second term), 13 April 2015.

Since the 1989 coup, Revolutionary Command Council for National Salvation [RCC-NS] chairman Bashir, who was born in 1944, has been the president. Bashir led the coup out of fear that the sitting government might compromise the implementation of Islamic (Sharia) law with its peace negotiations with southern rebels. At the time of the coup, Bashir only had achieved the rank of colonel. He was the commander of a paratroop brigade that was stationed at Al Mijlad in southern Sudan. He had returned to Khartoum with 175 paratroopers only a few days prior to the coup. Bashir's earlier experience included military training in Egypt and Malaysia, and service on the frontline with the Egyptian armed forces during the October 1973 Arab-Israeli War. In the late 1970s, he was a military adviser in the United Arab Emirates. Soon after the coup, Bashir promoted himself to lieutenant general.

General Bashir, the chairman of the RCC-NS and head of state since the coup of June 1989, was also supreme commander of the armed forces and minister of defense. A colonel at the time of the coup, Bashir subsequently assumed the rank of lieutenant general. The SPAF chief of staff, Lieutenant General Ishaq Ibrahim Umar, was in immediate command of the armed forces. The general staff included deputy chiefs of staff for operations, administration, and logistics, who also held the rank of lieutenant general. The commander of the air force, the commander of air defense command, division commanders, and most military governors held the rank of major general. A retired major general was appointed minister of state for defense affairs to serve as Bashir's deputy in the Ministry of Defence. The actual responsibilities and influence of senior officers depended greatly on their political status, ethnic affiliation, and other factors in addition to their positions in the chain of command.

Bashir was the first sitting head of state to be indicted by the International Criminal Court [ICC]. By late 2008, there were rumors that Sudan's National Congress Party (NCP) was trying to broker a quick and graceful removal of President Al-Bashir, with the President going into exile in Saudi Arabia. Al-Bashir had declared that he was willing to step down "if asked by the Sudanese people, not foreigners." Discussions on a transition, which were to take place before an ICC arrest warrant could be issued, stalled over who would replace Al-Bashir and under what conditions. The logical replacement, VP Ali Osman Taha, is hesitant to move forward because of fears of bitter opposition from the Sudanese Army (SAF) which distrusted civilians generally and Taha in particular because of his close ties to NISS chief Salah Ghosh, who had built up Sudan's national security apparatus as a rival to the SAF.

Despite the repeated and well-documented brutality of the regime in Darfur, President Al-Bashir was exquisitely tuned to an inclusive and congenial form of rule quite comfortable to Sudan's tiny Northern Arab elite. Finding that sort of balance once again, one that gives full rein to the regime's greed and impunity, would not be easy.

Sudan’s president Omer Hassan al-Bashir won re-election with 94% of the vote, according to official results announced April 27, 2015 , extending his nearly three-decade rule for another five years. Polls results also showed that the ruling National Congress Party (NCP) won 323 of the 426 seats in the National Assembly followed by the Democratic Unionist Party (DUP) led by Mohamed Osman al-Mirghani who won 25 seats. Independent candidates won 19 seats while the DUP led by Jalal al-Digair came forth by 15 seats.

Like many of the "guardians of the ‘Salvation’ regime", president Field Marshal Omar Hassan Ahmad al-Bashir is a man of humble origins. He was born in 1944 in Hoshe Bannaga, a village near the northern town of Shendi, as the son of a hallab, or milker of cows. He hailed from the Bideriyya Dahmashiyya section of the Ja’alin, one of the northern ethnic groups from which a large number of senior regime politicians hail.

He received his primary and intermediary schooling at Shendi, before completing his studies at the Khartoum Government Secondary School, working at an auto repair shop in Khartoum to help pay his fees. It is believed that it was during his final years of school education that al-Bashir first entered into the Islamic Movement, after encouragement from a number of relatives who were also members. Omar al-Bashir also met his future vice-president, Ali Osman Taha, for the first time at this secondary school.

Before his involvement in the 1989 coup, al-Bashir had embarked upon a military career of some pedigree. After graduating from the Sudanese military college in 1967, he obtained MAs in military science in both Malaysia and Sudan. He also fought not just in the two Sudanese civil wars but against Israel in the 1973 Yom Kippur war. However, al-Bashir began at the same time to engage in secret political activity.

In 1977, following its reconciliation with Jafa’ar Nimeiri and the May Regime (1969-1985), the Islamic Movement pursued a conscious strategy of infiltrating the armed forces. Al-Bashir managed, in spite of at times attracting the close attentions of Jafa’ar Nimeiri’s State Security Organization, to become one of the leaders of the Islamist cell within the Sudan Armed Forces.

After Nimeiri’s ouster in 1985, there were rumors in the international press that al-Bashir was planning a coup for the benefit of Hassan al-Turabi’s National Islamic Front, as a result of which a sympathetic general posted him to Muglad in the region of south Kordofan so as to keep him out of the limelight. It was here that al-Bashir implemented Sadiq al-Mahdi’s policy of arming ethnic militias against the SPLA rebels with an alacrity not displayed by other officers. In 1988 he was promoted to the rank of Brigadier, and he continued to play an active role in the field.

In fact, al-Bashir was on active combat duty against the southern rebels in Mayom, Unity State until only one week before his famous coup of 1989. The Islamic Movement had recently chosen al-Bashir to be head of its military wing, considering him more malleable than his predecessor Osman Ahmad Hassan, who had stated that if he were to lead a coup his first loyalty would be to the military.

In the spring of 1989 he met with his old schoolmate Ali Osman Taha and planned the downfall of Sudan’s third democracy. However, given al-Bashir’s presence in the south, other Islamist officers such as Ibrahim Shams al-Din, Abd al-Rahim Muhammad Hussein and Zubayr Muhammad Salih played a more significant role in instigating the actual takeover.

Soon after seizing power, al-Bashir addressed the crowds in Khartoum, stating ‘I vow here to purge from our ranks the renegades, the hirelings, enemies of the people and enemies of the armed forces...Anyone who betrays the nation does not deserved the honour of living’. Al-Bashir kept his word, eviscerating the public sector, the professionals, the police force and the army by purging them of perceived secularists, or ‘sectarians’ linked to the opposition parties.

Bashir ruled as the head of a Revolutionary Command Council until 1993, when this body dissolved itself and appointed al-Bashir President. Al-Bashir was then ‘elected’ to this same position in 1996 during polls that were boycotted by all the major opposition parties. Nevertheless, he was not regarded as the dominant figure in Sudanese politics at this stage.

In 1998 al-Turabi mockingly remarked of al-Bashir : ‘Omer now represents Sudan’s contemporary history, but he will not do so a hundred years hence, just as he did not have anything to do with it twenty years ago’. Al-Bashir appeared – perhaps somewhat elusively – as a mere puppet of the NIF at this stage, with al-Turabi reportedly annulling his decisions on a regular basis.

However, al-Bashir increasingly began to develop his own support base by appealing to pragmatists within the army and Islamic movement who were startled by the radicalism of Turabist ideology, which was beginning to turn the country into a pariah state. The power struggle intensified when al-Turabi attempted to use his position as speaker of parliament to trim al-Bashir’s authority as president, and culminated on 12 December 1999 when al-Bashir dissolved the national assembly, removed al-Turabi as speaker and declared a state of emergency.

Al-Bashir ruled for another year by emergency decree, before further sham elections in 2000 saw him anointed president once more. In 2005 he received a deal of credit after his government successfully signed a peace deal with the south, but his personal role in the peace deal was relatively minor. This was indicated by the fact that it was Ali Osman Taha, not al-Bashir, who acted as a signatory to the accord alongside John Garang.

Al-Bashir’s own views towards the south were perhaps indicated by the uncompromising stance taken by his uncle, al-Tayyib Mustafa, the editor of al-Intibaha, who actively campaigned for the secession of the south on the essentially racist pretext that southerners diluted the Arab and Muslim character of Sudan.

Whilst al-Bashir’s government briefly closed down al-Intibaha as a sop to the south in the lead up to the 2011 referendum on secession, one wonders how different al-Bashir’s views really are to those of his uncle. In December 2010, he declared ‘If the south secedes, we will change the constitution and at that time there will be no time to speak of diversity of culture and ethnicity... shari’a and Islam will be the main source for the constitution, Islam the official religion and Arabic the official language’.

There was of course no guarantee al-Bashir would keep to his commitment to stand down after the completion of his current term, which recalled the numerous unfulfilled promises to relinquish power made by his military predecessor Jafa’ar Nimeiri (1969-1985). Al-Bashir, while he shared Nimeiri’s ruthlessness, lacked his erratic and personalistic tendencies. This is perhaps why he had survived longer than any other post-colonial Sudanese head of state.

The conflicts in Sudan since 1989 served a calculated purpose for al-Bashir’s National Congress Party to justify publicly their continuing stranglehold on power. Al-Bashir’s decision to allow Taha to act as northern signatory to the 2005 Comprehensive Peace Agreement with South Sudan was probably not an act of modesty, and more likely reflects the fact that war is the principal source of his legitimacy.

Nevertheless, the economic benefits that followed Sudan’s rise as an oil exporter in 1999 may have increased al-Bashir’s popularity among the northern urban populations at the riverain core who have benefited most from this boom. It remained to be seen whether they will continue to support al-Bashir in the wake of secession and the loss of oil revenue it entailed.

Although the 2005 constitution stipulated that a Sudanese head of state may only serve two successive terms, al-Bashir had only contested one election since the formal implementation of the 2005 constitution, and the ruling National Congress Party (NCP) assertd the condition is not retroactive.

Al-Bashir has two wives, one of them the widow of his fellow coup-plotter Ibrahim Shams al-Din. He is a stringent advocate of polygamy, and has declared that Sudanese men should take more wives to help increase the population of the country. Ironically, he himself remains childless. This, and the fact that the president has promised to stand down after the completion of his current term raised possibility that Sudan will soon be ruled by a man not named al-Bashir.

War Criminal

The Report of the International Commission of Inquiry on Darfur, submitted to the United Nations Secretary-General on January 25, 2005, established that the ‘‘Government of the Sudan and the Janjaweed are responsible for serious violations of international human rights and humanitarian law amounting to crimes under international law,’’ that ‘‘these acts were conducted on a widespread and systematic basis, and therefore may amount to crimes against humanity,’’ and that officials of the Government of Sudan and other individuals may have acted with ‘‘genocidal intent’’.

On March 31, 2005, the United Nations Security Council passed Security Council Resolution 1593 (2005), referring the situation in Darfur since July 1, 2002, to the prosecutor of the International Criminal Court and calling on the Government of Sudan and all parties to the conflict to cooperate fully with the Court. In March 2009, Bashir was charged with war crimes and crimes against humanity, by the International Criminal Court at The Hague. Since acquiring the distinction of being the first head of state to officially double as an international fugitive, the president has categorically avoided stepping foot in any country that is a signatory to the ICC.

Bashir was indicted on two counts of war crimes and five counts of crimes against humanity on 04 March 2009. However, the Hague-based ICC’s pre-trial chamber found there was insufficient evidence to charge him with genocide. He is suspected of being criminally responsible, as an indirect (co-)perpetrator, for intentionally directing attacks against an important part of the civilian population of Darfur, Sudan, murdering, exterminating, raping, torturing and forcibly transferring large numbers of civilians, and pillaging their property,” according to a press release issued by the Court.

These crimes were committed during the Sudanese Government’s 2003-2008 counter-insurgency campaign waged against armed groups including the Sudan Liberation Movement Army (SLM-A) and the Justice and Equality Movement (JEM). An estimated 300,000 people had died in Darfur.

In July 2010, the International Criminal Court issued an arrest warrant for Sudan's President Omar al-Bashir for the crime of genocide. It was the second ICC warrant for his arrest. ICC spokesperson Sonja Robla says President Bashir is charged with genocide against three ethnic groups. "The judges of the court think that there are reasonable grounds to believe that al-Bashir is responsible for three counts of genocide committed against the Fur, Masalit, and Zaghawa ethnic groups," she said. The ICC first issued an arrest warrant for the Sudanese leader last year. In 2009, genocide was omitted from the list of charges because of insufficient evidence. But Robla says on appeal, the ICC judges decided there were "reasonable grounds" to believe he is responsible for genocide.

The ICC first issued a warrant against Bashir in March 2009, making him the first sitting head of State to be indicted by the court. A second arrest warrant was issued in July 2010. While Sudanese national courts could decide to grant Bashir immunity, they must act based on the evidence presented by the ICC’s investigation. The evidence pointed to Bashir’s role in not only ordering crimes, but also replacing commanders, recruiting the Janjaweed after promising to demobilize them and other methods to carry out crimes, while using diplomacy and cover ups to protect himself.

Various resolutions of the African Union prohibited its members from cooperating with the Court with respect to the warrant for the arrest of Omar Al Bashir. International law does not exempt a head of State when he or she is sought out by an international court for crimes. To interpret teh ICC Statute in such a way so as to justify not surrendering Omar Al Bashir on immunity grounds would disable the Court and international criminal justice in ways completely contrary to the purpose of the Statute.

The ICC judges noted that immunity for heads of State before international courts has been rejected time and again dating all the way back to the First World War, and gave examples of international prosecutions against Slobodan Miloševic, Charles Taylor, Muammar al-Qadhafi and Laurent Gbagbo, noting that initiating international prosecutions against heads of State has gained widespread recognition as accepted practice.

The International Criminal Court (ICC) decided 12 December 2011 that Malawi failed to cooperate with the court when it did not arrest and surrender Bashir. The International Criminal Court (ICC) decided 13 December 2011 that Chad has not met its obligation to fully cooperate with the court by failing to arrest and surrender Bashir during his visit to Chad in August 2011. The chamber had previously informed the council and the assembly of Bashir’s visits to Djibouti, Chad and Kenya. Although they received a warning by the Registry prior to the visit of Omar Al Bashir, the authorities of the Republic of Chad decided neither to respond to the Court nor to arrest the suspect.

Judges at the International Criminal Court (ICC) asked South African authorities to explain why they failed to arrest Sudanese President Omar Hassan al-Bashir in June 2015 when he attended a conference. Bashir was able to leave an African Union summit in South Africa and fly home, in defiance of a ruling by a South African court ordering his detention under a warrant from the Court. South Africa, a member of the ICC, is obliged to enforce warrants from the Hague-based tribunal.

Erastus Mwencha, deputy chairperson of the African Union commission, said “For purposes of the meeting, the venue of the meeting is an extended territory of the African Union. And so, President Omar al-Bashir was within the territory of the African Union. So, the court could not have had any jurisdiction in that unless the South African government reneged and does not live by the African Union statute,” Mwencha said.

Mwencha said leaders who normally do not have relations with the United States attend U.N. General Assembly meetings in New York understand they are not on U.S. territory for the purpose of that meeting. Otherwise, Mwencha said the international community would demand that the U.N. move from New York.

President Omar Hassan al-Bashir began a four-day visit to China 31 August 2015, despite court orders against his travel and a warrant for his arrest issued by the International Criminal Court. China is not a signatory to the ICC but is a permanent member of the UN Security Council.

Foreign Minister Ibrahim Ghandour said President Bashir continued to travel the world whenever he is invited by other heads of state without fear of being arrested. Sudan’s foreign minister said the International Criminal Court’s indictment of President Omar al-Bashir is merely a European accusation that has been rejected by the rest of the international community, including the African Union.

The International Criminal Court said India should arrest and hand over Bashir, who visited New Delhi for a summit in October 2015.

Sudanese President Omar al-Bashir said 07 April 2016 he will step down when his current term is over, four years from now. “In 2020, there will be a new president and I will be an ex-president,” Bashir said during an interview with the BBC. During the interview, he said his job is “exhausting” and he would not be a candidate in the next presidential election. Bashir, 72, was among Africa's longest-ruling leaders. He had been in power since 1989 when he seized power through a military coup.

Long wanted by the International Criminal Court (ICC) on crimes against humanity, genocide and war crimes charges, Bashir was finally brought down in a popular uprising by the people he ruled with an iron fist for 30 years. One of Africa's longest-serving presidents, Bashir held the dubious honour of being the only sitting head of state indicted for war crimes.

The 75-year-old had remained defiant in the face of accusation, accusing the ICC of being the “new face of colonisation”. He went on to win re-election twice, despite being indicted by the Hague-based ICC in 2009 on war crimes charges related to the conflict in Darfur. In 2010, he was also indicted by the ICC for genocide.

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Page last modified: 15-04-2019 18:49:34 ZULU