Omar Hassan Ahmad al-Bashir is the current President of Sudan who came to power in 1989 after he led a military coup to oust the government of Prime Minister Sadiq al-Mahdi. Bashir was a brigadier in the Sudanese army at the time of the coup. After assuming power he proclaimed himself the chairman of the Revolutionary Command Council for National Salvation and suspended all political parties, trade unions and government bodies. He also banned all independent newspapers and imprisoned leading journalists and political activists. His power grew immensely after he disbanded the Revolutionary Command Council for National Salvation in 1993 and declared himself the president of the country. A proud and egoistic man, Omar al-Bashir has often been criticized for his repressive rule and dictatorship. When he seized power, Sudan was in the midst of a 21-year civil war between north and south, and the political situation in the country has worsened since then. His friendship with Hassan al-Turabi, an Islamist politician with links to Arab militant groups, also added to his notoriety leading to accusations of harboring and providing sanctuary and assistance to Islamic terrorist groups. In 2009, the International Criminal Court (ICC) issued an arrest warrant against Bashir for directing a campaign of mass killing, rape, and pillage against civilians in Darfur and he became the first sitting president to be indicted by the ICC.
Childhood & Early Life
Omar al-Bashir was born on 1 January 1944 in Hosh Bannaga, north of the capital, Khartoum, Sudan. He is of Arab descent, belonging to Al-Bedairyya Al-Dahmashyya, a Bedouin tribe. His father was a farmer.
His family moved to Khartoum when he was a young boy and he competed his schooling there.
He studied at the Egyptian Military Academy in Cairo and then at the Sudan Military Academy in Khartoum from where he graduated in 1966.
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Omar al-Bashir joined the army as a young man and rose through the ranks swiftly. He became a paratrooper and fought in the Egyptian army in the Arab-Israeli war in October 1973.
He went to the United Arab Emirates as the Sudanese military attaché in 1975, and upon his return he was made a garrison commander. He became the commander of an armored parachute brigade in 1981.
Omar al-Bashir assumed the leading role in the Sudanese army’s campaign against the rebels of the southern Sudan People’s Liberation Army (SPLA) in the mid-1980s.
By the late 1980s he had risen to the rank of a brigadier in the Sudanese army. At that time, the country was at the risk of entering a famine, and he was increasingly getting dissatisfied with the administration of Prime Minister Sadiq al-Mahdi.
He led a group of army officers in a bloodless military coup on 30 June 1989 to oust the unstable coalition government of Prime Minister Sadiq al-Mahdi, and took over the leadership of the country.
After coming to power, Omar al-Bashir suspended all political parties and introduced an Islamic legal code throughout Sudan. He proclaimed himself as the Chairman of the Revolutionary Command Council for National Salvation and assumed the posts of chief of state, prime minister, chief of the armed forces, and minister of defense.
He banned political parties and independent newspapers, and ordered the imprisonment of leading political figures and journalists. He also executed a number of people in the upper ranks of the army whom he believed to be coup leaders.
The country plunged into deep political turmoil under Omar al-Bashir’s leadership. His powers increased considerably when he declared himself the President of Sudan in October 1993 after disbanding the Revolutionary Command Council for National Salvation and all other rival political parties.
He now enjoyed absolute power and was elected president in the 1996 national election where he was the only candidate by law to run for election. In 2000 he was re-elected for a five-year term in Presidential Elections.
Throughout this period the war with the SPLA continued with increasing intensity. Millions of people were killed, injured and displaced in this war. There was mounting pressure on al-Bashir to end the civil war.
He finally gave in to international pressure and agreed to form a peace pact with the SPLA. After extensive negotiations, he and the rebel leader John Garang signed a peace agreement in January 2005.
In March 2009, the International Criminal Court (ICC) issued an arrest warrant against him and charged him with war crimes and crimes against humanity. In 2010, the ICC issued a second arrest warrant against him, this time charging him with genocide. Omar al-Bashir stated that since Sudan is not a party to the ICC treaty, it should not be expected to abide by its provisions.
Even though his long political career has been marked by war, conflicts and widespread corruption, it cannot be denied that Sudan has made some economic progress during his administration and has established strong trade ties with countries such as China and Russia.
Personal Life & Legacy
Omar al-Bashir has two wives. His first wife is his cousin, Fatima Khalid while his second wife is a woman named Widad Babiker Omer. Omer was once married to Ibrahim Shamsaddin, a member of the Revolutionary Command Council for National Salvation, with whom she has several children. Omar al-Bashir does not have any children of his own with either of his wives.