Sudan's long-term leader 'to step down in 2020'

Sudan's long-term leader 'to step down in 2020'
3 min read
07 April, 2016
Omar al-Bashir, who came to power in 1989 in a military coup, has vowed to step down at the end of the decade, despite failing to honour similar promises before.
Sudan has been ravaged by conflict, poverty and unrest ever since Bashir took power [AFP]

Sudan's President Omar al-Bashir, who has been in power for 27 years since overturning a democratically elected government, has hinted he would not seek a new term after 2020.

He told the BBC his job was "exhausting" and that his current term would be his last.

"In 2020, there will be a new president and I will be an ex-president," the 72-year-old claimed.

Bashir, described by many as a dictator, has made similar pledges in the past - but has failed to honour them.

Last year, he was "re-elected" president, winning 94 percent of the vote in elections boycotted by the mainstream Sudanese opposition amid low turnout.

The Sudanese strongman has been indicted by the International Criminal Court (ICC) on counts of genocide and war crimes over the role of Sudanese forces he led in atrocities in Darfur and South Sudan.

Read more: Omar al-Bashir, a president for life?

The UN says more than 2.5 million people have been displaced in Darfur since 2003 - with more than 100,000 this year alone.

However, Bashir has since challenged the indictment, appearing in foreign capitals such as Beijing and Jakarta.

The Sudanese president has also enjoyed the support of Gulf states, led by Saudi Arabia and the UAE, keen to tap into his majority Sunni nation's armed forces and resources against regional foes such as Iran.

Sudan has turned against former allies in Tehran, cutting diplomatic ties.

Bashir's Sudan has also joined the Saudi-led war effort against the Houthi rebels in Yemen, backed by Iran, in return for substantial aid from Riyadh and Abu Dhabi, as well as political rehabilitation.

Recently, Sudan, once a base for Palestinian militant group Hamas, also hinted it could normalise relations with Israel.
During the first decade of his rule, Bashir alienated many neighbours and Western governments with his increasingly extremist interpretation of Islam
Coup leader

Bashir was born in 1944 in the Nile Valley north of Khartoum.

He served at least one tour of combat duty in the south against the rebel Sudan People's Liberation Army (SPLA). In June 1989 he overthrew the democratically elected civilian government of former Prime Minister Sadek Al Mahdi.

In October 1993, he dissolved the military junta which brought him to power and appointed himself civilian president in a move designed to establish Islamic governance in Africa's largest country as stable and civilian-based.

During the first decade of his rule, Bashir alienated many neighbours and Western governments with his increasingly extremist interpretation of Islam and alleged support for Islamic radicals abroad.

Bashir was one of few long-time autocratic Arab leaders that managed to emerge from the so-called Arab Spring protests unscathed.

Agencies contributed to this report