Sudan’s al-Bashir to seek re-election
KHARTOUM, Sudan (AP) — Sudanese President Omar al-Bashir, who has led the country for 25 years, will run in upcoming presidential elections despite earlier statements that he intended to step down next year, state media reported Tuesday.
Al-Bashir’s ruling National Congress Party made the announcement, describing the current president as the most “fit” to lead Sudan in the years ahead. It also elected him party chairman for another four-year term, which ends in 2019.
In an interview published in several Sudanese newspapers last year, al-Bashir said he wouldn’t run because the Sudanese people need “fresh blood and a new impetus to continue their march.” He said at the time his decision was “definite.”
The presidential and parliamentary elections are scheduled for April 2015. Campaigning will start in February.
Sudan’s main opposition parties have called for the elections to be delayed, saying they need more time to raise funds and contact their supporters. They have also said al-Bashir and his party monopolize power and restrict civil liberties, making fair elections impossible.
Al-Bashir is the first sitting head of state to be indicted by the International Criminal Court, for war crimes and crimes against humanity during the deadly conflict in Sudan’s western Darfur region. The U.N. estimates 300,000 people have died and 2.7 million have been displaced in the conflict.
Al-Bashir took power in a coup in 1989. His party presided over the secession of Sudan’s southern region in 2011.