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Bashir resigns as head of Sudan army to run for president

January 12 - 2010 KHARTOUM

President Omar Al Bashir has resigned as the head of the Sudanese Armed Forces in order to run for the presidential elections in April. Candidates are legally not allowed to maintain a position in the army and run for president at the same time. Bashir is the candidate for the ruling National Congress Party (NCP). He received yesterday support from a southern SPLM breakaway faction of Lam Akol (SPLM-DC), the Muslim Brotherhood and some loyal parties in East and Northern Sudan.

Bashir is wanted by the International Criminal Court for alleged war crimes in Darfur. He has the rank of Field Marshal and was a Colonel when he staged a coup in 1989 against the democratically elected government of Sadiq al Mahdi. Part of Bashir’s military training took place in Egypt. He participated in 1973 in the Yom Kippur War against Israel alongside the Egyptian army.

Sudan Tribune quoted the ex-minister of Foreign Affairs who split off from the SPLM, Lam Akol, at Bashir’s residence stating that “the different challenges facing the country require a personality like Bashir, who is widely accepted and respected by all the Sudanese people, besides his experience and his clear achievements in the history of the country”.

SPLM nominees

Whether first president Salva Kiir of the Sudan People’s Liberation Movement (SPLM) also will step down as head of the southern army (SPLA) is unknown. The SPLM has not sent its nominees to the National Electoral Commission (NEC). The nominations process will close this coming Tuesday. The SPLA faces major challenges in combatting local militias between the Nuer, Dinka and other tribes. Salva Kiir is a Dinka while the second in command is a Nuer. Last week, over 140 people were killed in tribal clashes. Yesterday another 6 were killed in Bor.

It is uncertain whether Salva Kiir will contest Bashir. Other possible candidates are the prominent SPLM member from the North, Yassir Arman, or the deputy governor of Southern Kordofan (Nuba Mountains), Abdel Aziz Adam Al-Hilu. He is a prominent member of the SPLM, descendant from Darfur and the Nuba Mountains and was a commander for the SPLM in the Southern Nuba Mountains during the war until 2005. He forced the Sudan Armed Forces to agree on a permanent ceasefire in his area years before the Comprehensive Peace Agreement was signed.

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