Sudan’s Al Bashir ‘intends to step down in 2020’
“In 2020, there will be a new president and I will be an ex-president, God willing,” President Omar Al Bashir said in an interview with the BBC.
In the interview, Al Bashir denied allegations of abuses perpetrated by the Sudanese forces against villages in the Darfur region, including recent reports of soldiers torching villages in the mountains of Jebel Marra, where a large-scale military offensive was launched nearly three months ago.
“All these allegations are baseless, none of these reports is true,” he said. “We challenge anyone to visit the areas recaptured by the armed forces, and find a single village that has been torched. In fact, there hasn’t been any aerial bombing.”
Radio Dabanga reported that the latest aerial bombardment took place on Monday in Golo area, in western Jebel Marra. Three persons were killed, including a 7-year-old boy.
Following clashes between Sudan’s forces and armed rebels in Jebel Marra and widely reported aerial bombardments on civilian areas, aid organisations have indicated that an estimated 133,000 people have been displaced since 15 January.
President Bashir told the BBC that the UN estimates were “highly inflated and not real”. “Only a very small number of people have been displaced and they have either reached our positions or [gone to] where the UN peacekeepers [Unamid] are deployed.”
The president said that UN forces and Unamid “have no vital role to play” in Darfur, “not even in defending themselves and their units”. “As peace has returned to Darfur, I think that they have no role to undertake and that’s why we want them to leave.”
Likewise he said there was no role in the region for aid workers because there is no food crisis in Darfur. He said that estimates that 2.5 million people were living in camps in Darfur were “much too inflated” and the true figure is closer to 160,000.
The statements are reminiscent of Al Bashir’s declared intention to step down in 2015. In an interview with a Sudanese newspaper in March 2013, the president said that his party deliberated to select a new presidential candidate for the elections of 2015. But his NCP insisted he continued in office, which he did after the elections that resulted in the favour of the ruling party.
Al Bashir has been in power since 1989 after a military coup on an elected government. He told the BBC’s Thomas Fessy that his job was “exhausting” and his current term would be his last.
In the interview, the president dismissed the ICC as a “politicised tribunal” and that evidence of his popularity in Sudan could clearly be seen by the huge crowds that greet him. “These are the same crowds I’m accused of having committed genocide and ethnic cleansing against. This is why I’ve defied the tribunal, and [why] I’ve been travelling freely around the world.”
(Source: BBC http://www.bbc.com/news/world-africa-35983518)
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