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
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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.


Kosovo votes to create national army over Serb objections

Updated 18 October 2018
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Kosovo votes to create national army over Serb objections

  • Europe’s newest independent state which relies on NATO troops for its protection, voted to set up a 5,000-strong national army
  • The landlocked Balkan territory of 1.8 million, which declared independence in 2008, is still guarded by 4,000 stationed NATO troops

PRISTINA: Parliament in Kosovo, Europe’s newest independent state which relies on NATO troops for its protection, voted on Thursday to set up a 5,000-strong national army though its Serb minority said the move was illegal.
Serb deputies, backed by Belgrade which does not recognize Kosovo’s independence, have blocked any such move in the past saying creation of a national army required a change to the constitution.
But three laws promoted by the Kosovo government and passed by a parliamentary vote on Thursday simply upgraded the mandate of the lightly-armed domestic Kosovo Security Force (KSF) to become a national army — something which the government said did not require any changes to the constitution.
The vote was passed with 98 in favor in the 120-seat parliament, though it was boycotted by the legislature’s 11 Serb deputies. A second vote will be required in the next few days.
“The three laws have one task, to protect the territorial integrity of Kosovo, to protect the citizens of all communities in Kosovo,” Prime Minister Ramush Haradinaj said before the vote.
The landlocked Balkan territory of 1.8 million, which declared independence in 2008, is still guarded by 4,000 stationed NATO troops nearly two decades after the end of the war.
NATO moved into the fledgling state in June 1999 following weeks of air strikes to halt the killing and expulsion of ethnic Albanian civilians by Serbian forces fighting a two-year counter-insurgency after the break-up of Yugoslavia.
The United States and most of the European Union member states recognize Kosovo. But objections by permanent Security Council members Russia and China which back Serbia in not accepting Kosovo’s statehood prevent it from being a member of the United Nations.
The laws passed said the new army would have 5,000 active soldiers and 3,000 reservists. The present KSF security force is a lightly armed, 2,500-strong force trained by NATO and tasked with crisis response, civil protection and ordinance disposal.
NATO says it has no plans to leave the territory just now, but it suggested that any change to the status of the KSF might lead to a reduction in its forces there.
“Any change in the structure, mandate and mission of the Kosovo Security Forces is for the Kosovo authorities to decide,” a NATO official told Reuters in an emailed answer.
“NATO supports the Kosovo Security Force under its current mandate. Should this mandate evolve, the North Atlantic Council will have to re-examine the level of NATO’s engagement in Kosovo. We cannot predict decisions by the North Atlantic Council.”