Omar Al-Bashir


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(b. Hosh Wad, Banaqa, Sudan, 7 Jan. 1944)

Sudanese; President 1993–  Al-Bashir was born into a peasant family. He rose through the ranks of the Sudanese army, attended military college in Cairo, and fought with the Egyptian army in the Yom Kippur war against Israel in 1973. He led the Sudanese military campaign against southern rebels in the civil war between the Muslim/Arab north and the black African Christian/animist south in the 1980s. He led a successful coup against Sudan's elected government in 1989. Political parties were banned and he set up and chaired a Revolutionary Council to run the country, supported by Hassan al-Turabi, an advocate for the formation of an Islamist state. In 1993 al-Bashir dismissed the Revolutionary Council and became President. In 1996 he felt the political position in the country was more stable and called for a presidential election, which he won.

In the late 1990s oil found in the border area between the north and south of the country went into production but the long-running civil war worsened. Al-Bashir was re-elected in disputed elections in 2000 but he then went on to dissolve parliament and declare a state of emergency. In 2003 civil war broke out in the west of the country, in the Darfur region. It was reported that al-Bashir enlisted the Arab/Muslim militia, the Janjaweed, to crush black African rebellion in Darfur. Amid reports of horrific violence and ethnic cleansing, al-Bashir agreed the deployment of a small African Union peacekeeping force in the area.

Al-Bashir signed a peace pact with southern rebels in 2005, ending the 21-year civil war between north and south. However, the Darfur conflict worsened and scenes of appalling violence were witnessed. In 2008, al-Bashir eventually allowed in a joint UN/AU peacekeeping force, but accusations were made against him to the International Criminal Court in the Hague, and in 2009 the ICC issued an arrest warrant against him citing crimes against humanity, war crimes and genocide, the first time it has issued such a warrant for a current head of state.

Subjects: Politics.

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