Omar al-Bashir

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Omar Hasan Ahmad al-Bashir
Image:Omar el-Béchir.jpg

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Incumbent
Assumed office 
30 June, 1989
Vice President(s)   Salva Kiir
Preceded by Ahmad al-Mirghani

Born January 1, 1944
Hosh Bannaga, Northern State , Sudan
Political party National Congress Party


Field Marshal Omar Hasan Ahmad al-Bashir (Arabic: عمر حسن احمد البشير, born 1 January 1944) is a Sudanese military leader and politician, chief of state (1989-1993) and President (1993-).

Contents

[edit] Background

Born in the small village of Hosh Bannaga in 1944, al-Bashir joined the Sudanese Army at a young age and studied at a military academy in Cairo. He quickly rose through the ranks and became a paratrooper. Later, Omar al-Bashir served with the Egyptian Army when it went to war with Israel in 1973.

He is a native speaker of the Arabic language.

[edit] Military career

When he returned to the Sudan, al-Bashir was put in charge of military operations against the Sudan People's Liberation Army in the southern half of the country. Becoming a general by the 1980s, al-Bashir took charge of a military coup in 1989 that overthrew democratically elected Prime Minister Sadeq al-Mahdi. Al-Bashir immediately banned all political parties, repressed the press, and dissolved Parliament upon assuming control of the nation. He then became Chairman of the Revolutionary Command Council for National Salvation (a newly established body with legislative and executive powers over the country), and assumed the posts of chief of state, prime minister, chief of the armed forces, and minister of defense.

[edit] Fundamentalist government

Al-Bashir subsequently allied himself with Hassan al-Turabi, leader of the National Islamic Front, and began a program to make northern Sudan a fundamentalist Islamic state. To this end, al-Bashir imposed Sharia and a harsh new Criminal Act over northern Sudan in 1991, which were enforced by Muslim judges and a newly created Public Order Police. On October 16, 1993, al-Bashir became even more powerful when he was appointed president of the country, after which time the Revolutionary Command Council for National Salvation was dissolved. The executive and legislative powers of the council were subsequently given to al-Bashir, who virtually ruled the nation as a dictator from that point on. He was later "elected" president (with a five year term) in a showcase national election in 1996. In 1998, al-Bashir and the Presidential Committee put into effect a new constitution. In 1999, al-Bashir and the Parliament made a law which allowed limited political “associations” in opposition to al-Bashir and his supporters to be formed, although these groups failed to gain any significant access to governmental power.

[edit] International arena

Al-Bashir is a controversial figure in the international arena. He has long been accused of harboring and aiding terrorists and Islamic extremists. Osama bin Laden lived and operated in Sudan for five years until he was removed and banned from the country in May 1996. The government of Sudan claims that al-Bashir had offered the United States the arrest and extradition of Bin Laden and detailed intelligence data earlier that year and that the Clinton administration was not receptive to the idea, though United States officials deny that any such offer was ever made. In 1998, the U.S. bombed al-Shifa pharmaceutical factory, a factory in Sudan that was allegedly producing chemical weapons for bin Laden, but many doubt if the factory truly was making such devices at the time of the attack. Sudan was subsequently one of the seven nations put on the U.S. State Department’s list of countries that sponsor international terrorism, but al-Bashir has fiercely denied that Sudan aids or has any connections with terrorist groups. Al-Bashir subsequently spoke out against the September 11, 2001 terrorist attacks and pressured Saddam Hussein to let weapons inspectors back into Iraq in 2002. Despite al-Bashir’s efforts, Sudan still remains carefully monitored in regard to terrorist activity within its borders. As recently as April 2004, U.S. President George W. Bush has called for al-Bashir to step up his efforts in combating terrorism.

[edit] Civil war

Sudan is perhaps best known internationally for the civil war that raged between the northern and southern halves of the country for over 19 years. Throughout his rule, al-Bashir escalated the conflict by launching military attacks against the region. The troops launching these attacks were accused of a multitude of human rights violations, including torture, rape, and the murder of women and children. The civil war also resulted in millions of southerners being displaced, starved, and deprived of education and health care. Because of these actions, various international sanctions were placed on the Sudan. Nevertheless, al-Bashir continued waging war against the south, buying arms and funding military operations with money gained from the sales of the country’s vast amount of oil. International pressure intensified in 2001, however, and leaders from the United Nations called for al-Bashir to make efforts to end the conflict and allow humanitarian and international workers to deliver relief to the southern regions of Sudan. Al-Bashir finally caved under the pressure, and peace talks between the northern and southern leaders of the country began in earnest in 2002. Much progress was made throughout 2003, and in early 2004 al-Bashir finally agreed to grant autonomy to the south for six years, split the country’s oil revenues with the southern provinces, and allow the southerners to vote in a referendum of independence at the end of the six year period. Some say al-Bashir is reluctant to completely fulfill all of these promises. Al-Bashir has also made statements discouraging southerners to support independence.

[edit] Darfur

As the conflict in the south of Sudan began to die down, a new one started in the western province of Darfur in early 2003. When rebels in the region arose in opposition to the government, al-Bashir gave governmental support and money to Islamic militias, the Janjaweed, to combat the rebels instead of sending the military to intervene (which al-Bashir officially denies). These militias have been accused of ethnic cleansing, and many thousands of people in Darfur have died and been displaced so far as a result of the violence in the region. The United States Government determined in September 2004 "that genocide has been committed in Darfur and that the Government of Sudan and the Janjaweed bear responsibility and that genocide may still be occurring" [citation needed]. Al-Bashir declared that the government had squashed the rebellion in February 2004, but rebels still operate within the region and the death toll continues to rise. George W. Bush and Kofi Annan have recently called for al-Bashir to better cooperate with humanitarian and international organizations by making it easier for them to enter Darfur, but al-Bashir has been for the most part reluctant to allow large numbers of outsiders into the region. Bush has gone so far as to say that international troops would be sent into Darfur to intervene in the conflict if al-Bashir did not let humanitarian aid enter the region. The conflict continues despite a recent ceasefire agreement, and al-Bashir has to date made few real steps to effectively end the crisis. On June 29, 2004, U.S. Secretary of State Colin Powell met with al-Bashir in Sudan and urged him to make peace with the rebels, end the crisis, and lift restrictions on the delivery of humanitarian aid to Darfur. Kofi Annan met with al-Bashir three days later and demanded he disarm the Janjaweed.

Both in 2005 and 2006, Parade magazine's David Wallechinsky ranked al-Bashir #1 in its list of the world’s ten worst dictators [1]. In September 2006, attending the UN General Assembly in New York, he said that Sudan wants the African Union to stay in Darfur until peace is re-established. Shortly afterwards the AU peace and United Nations Security Council announced that its 7,000 troops would remain until December 31 2006. In Khartoum the government appeared to treat the extension of the AU mandate as a victory over US pressure. Several thousand armed soldiers paraded through the capital to the sound of Islamic music September 21 2006. They marched near the military headquarters and the presidential guesthouse accompanied by tanks.<ref>UN envoy calls for peace in Darfur during Ramadan</ref>

[edit] Reference

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[edit] See also

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ar:عمر البشير de:Umar Hasan Ahmad al-Baschir el:Ομάρ Μπασίρ es:Omar Hasan Ahmad al-Bashir fa:عمر حسن البشیر fr:Omar el-Béchir gl:Omar Hasan Ahmad al-Bashir - عمر حسن أحمد البشير id:Umar Hasan Ahmad al-Bashir it:Omar Hassan Ahmad al-Bashir nl:Omar Hasan Ahmad al-Bashir ja:オマル・アル=バシール no:Omar al-Bashir pl:Omar al-Baszir pt:Omar Hasan Ahmad al-Bashir fi:Omar Hasan Ahmad al-Bashir sv:Omar Hassan al-Bashir

Omar al-Bashir

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