Sudan ruling party chooses Bashir as candidate for third term in 2020 poll

Sudan's President Omar al-Bashir talks to South Sudan's President Salva Kiir after signing a cease fire and power sharing agreement with South Sudanese rebel leader Riek Machar in Khartoum, Sudan August 5, 2018. (Reuters)
Updated 10 August 2018
0

Sudan ruling party chooses Bashir as candidate for third term in 2020 poll

  • The National Congress Party’s advisory council announced Bashir as its candidate after an overnight meeting held in Khartoum
  • The veteran leader, wanted by the ICC, has been in power since a 1989 military coup

KHARTOUM: Sudan’s ruling party said Friday it has chosen President Omar Al-Bashir to run for a third elected term in 2020, despite the constitution only allowing two five-year terms.
The National Congress Party’s (NCP) advisory council said it had chosen Bashir, 74, as its candidate after an overnight meeting in Khartoum, the official SUNA news agency reported.
Council chief Kabashor Koko said the decision to opt for Bashir — who has been in power since a 1989 military coup — was taken by the party at all levels.
“We have decided to adopt all necessary procedures for him to run in the 2020 election,” he told reporters after the meeting.
The veteran leader faced his first multi-party election in 2010 — after a new constitution came into effect — and won comfortably that year.
In 2015, he took 94 percent of the vote, amid opposition boycotts, and later said he would not run for a third term.
Both the constitution and the NCP’s charter permit a maximum of two presidential terms, so both texts will have to be amended if Bashir stands again.
The earlier presidential elections have been criticized by human rights groups as lacking credibility.
Bashir is wanted by the International Criminal Court for alleged war crimes and genocide in the conflict-wracked western region of Darfur.
But Bashir has proved to be a political survivor who faced down not only the ICC indictments but also a myriad of domestic and regional challenges.
A decades-long war led to South Sudan seceding in 2011, while the conflict in Darfur killed tens of thousands of people and left millions displaced.
The wars took a heavy toll on Sudan’s economy, which took a further hammering when the Christian-majority south gained its independence, taking 75 percent of Sudan’s oil revenues with it.
While Washington lifted decades-old sanctions on Khartoum in October 2017, an anticipated economic recovery has so far failed to materialize.
Washington had imposed a trade embargo on Sudan in 1997 due to its backing of Islamist militants and human rights concerns. Al-Qadea founder Osama bin Laden lived in Sudan between 1992 and 1996.
Officials say Washington’s decision to keep Sudan on a blacklist of “state sponsors of terrorism” has hampered a post-sanctions economic turnaround, as international banks remain wary of engaging with Sudanese lenders.
“The decision to choose President Bashir as candidate for a third term will have an impact on the country’s economy as Sudan’s isolation in the international community will continue,” said Osman Mirghani, editor of independent newspaper Al-Tayyar.
Bashir overcame demonstrations in Khartoum in 2013, when rights groups said security agents shot dead about 200 protesters. Officials claim a lower death toll.
Since the crackdown five years ago, security agents have provided little space for opponents to gather.
A career soldier, Bashir is well known for his populist touch — he insists on addressing rallies in colloquial Sudanese Arabic and positioning himself close to the crowds.


Six dead in fire at Rohingya camp in Myanmar

Updated 4 min 58 sec ago
0

Six dead in fire at Rohingya camp in Myanmar

YANGON, Myanmar: Six Rohingya were killed early Friday after a blaze tore through an overcrowded camp for the persecuted minority in Myanmar’s Rakhine state, the local fire service said.
Global attention has focused on the 720,000 Rohingya Muslims forced from the state’s north into Bangladesh last year by a brutal military crackdown.
The UN Human Rights Council has accused top Myanmar generals of genocide over the bloody campaign, allegations the country strongly denies.
But less visible are the 129,000 Rohingya confined to squalid camps further south near the capital Sittwe following an earlier bout of violence in 2012.
Hundreds were killed that year in riots between Rakhine Buddhists and the stateless minority, who were corralled into destitute camps away from their former neighbors.
The conflagration in Ohndaw Chay camp, which houses some 4,000 Rohingya and lies 15 miles (24 kilometers) from Sittwe, started just before midnight and lasted several hours, fire department official Han Soe told AFP.
“Six people, one man and five women were killed,” he said, adding that 15 communal longhouses were also destroyed in the blaze thought to have been started in a kitchen accident.
“We were able to bring the fire under control about 1:10 am this morning and had put it out completely by around 3 am,” he said.
A total of 822 people were left without shelter, local media reported.
Conditions in the camps are dire and Rohingya trapped there have virtually no access to health care, education and work, relying on food handouts from aid agencies to survive.
Access into the camps is also tightly controlled, effectively cutting their inhabitants off from the outside world and leaving their plight largely forgotten.
Fires in the camps are common because of “severe” overcrowding, according to the UN’s Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA).
“Many camp residents have built makeshift extensions to their shelters to create more space for their families. So when a fire breaks out, it is more likely to spread quickly,” said OCHA spokesman Pierre Peron.
Hla Win, a Rohingya man from a nearby camp, told AFP that fire trucks were slow to arrive along the dilapidated roads from Sittwe and the lack of water also hampered efforts to extinguish the blaze.
“We have no ponds near the camps,” he said. “That’s why the fire destroyed so much.”
Myanmar has vowed to close nearly 20 of the camps around Sittwe in the coming months.
Rights groups say the move will achieve little without ending movement restrictions or granting Rohingya a pathway to citizenship.