NAIROBI, Kenya––The president of Sudan Omar al-Bashir has declared a yearlong state of emergency months after anti-government protests began calling for an end to his three-decade rule.
On Friday night (Feb. 22) in Khartoum, Bashir delivered a speech saying he has also dissolved both central and state governments and has delayed constitutional amendments that would have allowed him to run for another term of presidency in 2020.
Analysts say unless the constitution was changed, Bashir, who came to power in a putsch in 1989, would not be permitted to stand again.
Prior to Bashir’s speech, the head of national security and intelligence Salah Gosh informed media groups Bashir would step down as the head of the ruling National Congress Party and not run in the 2020 polls—something president Bashir himself didn’t confirm in his own speech. Bashir did, however, say that he would remain the country’s head of state.
The 75-year-old Sudanese leader also struck a conciliatory note saying the demands and aspiration of his people for better living conditions were legitimate. He also cautioned against “zero-sum politics” saying Sudan should avoid going the direction of neighboring states—possibly hinting at the conflagration of Libya after the ouster and killing of longtime leader Muammar Gaddafi following the 2011 Arab Spring protests.
The Sudanese leader said he had sent “an honest message” to opposition members to participate in constructive dialogue and suggested that mechanisms will be introduced to engage and empower the youth who are disconnected from the political process. The long-time also said he will listen to the concerns and demand of the young people on the streets who “represent the future of Sudan.”
International political and security watchers say foreign support and backing is keeping the Sudanese leader long in power and Egypt and a few Arab nations suspects.
Last December, Egypt’s foreign minister and intelligence chief visited Khartoum to pledge their unwavering support to Al-Bashir.
The convalescence of al-Bashir in the US dates to president Barack Obama’s presidency. Before leaving office, Obama lifted a range of US sanctions against the Sudanese regime. Also, the CIA’s large regional office in Khartoum was cited as one of the key reasons for his policy shift from the United States.
Moreover, ss Europe confronts the restriction of several Africans crossing the Mediterranean, it views the Sudanese government as an ally. The “Khartoum Process”, signed in the Sudanese capital, is critical to this relationship.