Friday, December 2, 2011

Omar Bashir

Lieutenant General Omar Hassan Ahmad Al-Bashir (Arabic: عمر حسن أحمد البشير‎; born 1 January 1944) is the current President of Sudan and the head of the National Congress Party. He came to power in 1989 when he, as a brigadier in the Sudanese army, led a group of officers in a bloodless military coup that ousted the government of Prime Minister Sadiq 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 dominated by the Sudan People's Liberation Army (SPLA). Since then, however, there has been a violent conflict in Darfur that has resulted in death tolls between 200,000 and 400,000. During his presidency, there have been several violent struggles between the Janjaweed militia and rebel groups such the Sudanese Liberation Army (SLA) and the Justice and Equality Movement (JEM) in the form of guerrilla warfare in the Darfur region. The civil war has resulted in over 2.5 million people being displaced, and the diplomatic relations between Sudan and Chad being at a crisis level.

Al-Bashir is a controversial figure both in Sudan and worldwide. In July 2008, the prosecutor of the International Criminal Court (ICC), Luis Moreno Ocampo, accused al-Bashir of genocide, crimes against humanity and war crimes in Darfur. The court issued an arrest warrant for al-Bashir on 4 March 2009 on counts of war crimes and crimes against humanity, but ruled that there was insufficient evidence to prosecute him for genocide. However, on 12 July 2010, after a lengthy appeal by the prosecution, the Court held that there was indeed sufficient evidence for charges of genocide to be brought and issued a second warrant containing three separate counts. The new warrant, as with the first, will be delivered to the Sudanese government, which is unlikely to execute it. Al-Bashir is the first sitting head of state ever indicted by the ICC as well as the first to be charged with genocide. The court's decision is opposed by the African Union, League of Arab States, Non-Aligned Movement, and the governments of Russia and the People's Republic of China. The latest leak from WikiLeaks allegedly reveals that the Sudanese president had embezzled state funds amounting to US$ 9 billion. This is justified by the International Criminal Court prosecutor who said it has evidence of corruption.

Early and family life
Al-Bashir was born in Hosh Bannaga, just north of the capital, Khartoum. He comes from Al-Bedairya Al-Dahmashya, a clan of the larger ja'alin tribe, a Arab tribe of hashimite in north of 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 is married to his cousin Fatima Khalid. He also has a second wife named Widad Babiker Omer, who had a number of children with her first husband Ibrahim Shamsaddin, a member of the Revolutionary Command Council for National Salvation who had died in a helicopter crash. Al-Bashir does not have any children of his own.

Military career
He joined the Sudanese Army in 1960. Al-Bashir studied at the Egyptian Military Academy in Cairo and also graduated from the Sudan Military Academy in Khartoum in 1966. He quickly rose through the ranks and became a paratroop officer. Later, al-Bashir served in the Egyptian Army during the Yom Kippur War in 1973 against Israel.

In 1975, al-Bashir was sent to the United Arab Emirates as the Sudanese military attaché. After his return home al-Bashir was made a garrison commander. In 1981 al-Bashir return to his paratroop background when he became the commander of an armoured parachute brigade.

On 16 October 1993, al-Bashir's powers increased when he appointed himself President of the country, after which he disbanded the Revolutionary Command Council for National Salvation and all other rival political parties. The executive and legislative powers of the council were later given to al-Bashir completely. In the early 1990s, al-Bashir's administration gave the green light to float a new currency called Sudanese Dinar to replace the battered old Sudanese Pound that had lost 90 percent of its worth during the turbulent 1980s. He was later elected president (with a five-year term) in the 1996 national election, where he was the only candidate by law to run for election and Hassan al-Turabi was elected to a seat in the National Assembly where he served as speaker of the National Assembly "during the 1990s." In 1998, al-Bashir and the Presidential Committee put into effect a new constitution, allowing limited political associations in opposition to al-Bashir's National Congress Party and his supporters to be formed, although these groups failed to gain any significant access to governmental power until the Darfur conflict became a subject. On 12 December 1999, al-Bashir sent troops and tanks against parliament and ousted Hassan al-Turabi, the speaker of parliament, in a palace coup. However, despite receiving international criticism regarding internal conflicts, Omar al-Bashir has managed to achieve economic growth in Sudan. This is partly because of the drilling and trading with oil from Southern Sudan.

Genocide charges
The initial ICC charges against al-Bashir, which included seven counts of crimes against humanity and war crimes, were issued in March 2009 but did not include genocide counts. On appeal, the lower court was found by appellate judge Erkki Kourula to have erred in law and was ordered to reexamine the evidence for genocide. Prosecutor Luis Moreno Ocampo anticipated that the reexamination could lead to charges within four to twelve months. Then, on February 3, 2010, the judges at the International Criminal Court held that the Pre-Trial Chamber had improperly dismissed the genocide charges against al-Bashir and ordered the Pre-Trial Chamber to reconsider them.

On July 12, 2010, the Pre-Trial Chamber applied the standard of evidence stated by the appellate court, and held that there was sufficient evidence to issue a second arrest warrant for the crime of genocide. A second arrest warrant for President al-Bashir was later issued with three added counts of genocide. The new warrant included the Court's conclusion that:
    "There are reasonable grounds to believe that (Omar al-Bashir) acted with specific intent to destroy in part the Fur, Masalit and Zaghawa ethnic groups in the troubled Darfur region".

The ICC released a further statement saying that al-Bashir's charges now include "genocide by killing, genocide by causing serious bodily or mental harm and genocide by deliberately inflicting on each target group conditions of life calculated to bring about the group's physical destruction" in three separate counts. The new warrant will act as a supplement to the first, whereby the charges initially brought against al-Bashir will all remain in place, but will now include the crime of genocide which was ruled out initially, pending appeal.

On 28 August 2010 in Nairobi, Kenya chose not to arrest Sudanese President Omar Hassan al-Bashir on International Criminal Court (ICC) charges of genocide when he arrived on Friday for a ceremony for the East African nation’s new constitution. He was escorted into Nairobi’s Uhuru Park, where the signing ceremony was taking place, by Tourism minister Najib Balala.

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