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.


‘Yellow vest’ marks 3 months of protests

Updated 2 min 19 sec ago
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‘Yellow vest’ marks 3 months of protests

  • Some 41,500 people took the streets on Saturday, according to police, the 14th consecutive Saturday of protests across the country
PARIS: French officials on Sunday strongly condemned anti-Semitic abuse and anti-police attacks by some “yellow vest” demonstrators as hundreds gathered in central Paris to mark the third month of the anti-government protests.
Prosecutors have launched an investigation into a group of protesters who shouted anti-Semitic insults at philosopher and writer Alain Finkielkraut during demonstrations in the capital on Saturday.
In a separate incident, a police car stuck in a traffic jam in Lyon, southeastern France, was stoned by demonstrators.
President Emmanuel Macron condemned the abuse directed at Finkielkraut, tweeting: “The anti-Semitic insults he has been subjected to are the absolute negation of what we are and what makes us a great nation. We will not tolerate it.”
The abuse was caught on video and broadcast on television and social media.
The stoning incident in Lyon was also captured on video, with footage filmed from inside the police car showing dozens of protesters throwing stones at the vehicle.
“We’re under attack and being stoned,” reported a policeman.
Interior Minister Christophe Castaner described the actions of the protesters as “intolerable.”
In Paris, 69-year-old Finkielkraut, who had voiced support for the “yellow vest” movement before later criticizing it, denounced the protests as “grotesque.”
“I felt absolute hatred and, unfortunately, this is not the first time,” Finkielkraut told Journal du Dimanche.
“I no longer back these demonstrations, it’s becoming grotesque, it’s a movement that no longer knows how to stop,” he said.
“These demonstrations are a bit like the Golem (a mythical Jewish giant) it moves forward smashing all around it,” he added.
The incident has rekindled claims by Macron that recent acts of anti-Semitic vandalism, including the painting of Nazi swastikas over portraits of famed French holocaust survivor Simone Veil, was the work of far-left and far-right activists within the “yellow vest” movement.
The “yellow vest” protests, which have no organized leadership, began three months ago on Nov. 17 over increasing fuel taxes.
They quickly grew into a broader anti-government rebellion fueled by anger toward Macron.
Some 41,500 people took the streets on Saturday, according to police, the 14th consecutive Saturday of protests across the country.
There were clashes and arrests in several cities but the level of violence and number of demonstrators were down on the previous weekend.
On Sunday, hundreds of protesters marched on the famous Champs-Elysees avenue, this time to mark the anniversary of the start of the movement.