SUNDAY 26 NOVEMBER 2017
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November 25, 2017 (KHARTOUM) – A leading figure at Sudan’s ruling National Congress Party (NCP) has ruled out that President Omer al-Bashir would agree to amend the constitution in order to run for the office again.
Al-Bashir’s term ends in 2020 and he couldn’t run for office again according to the constitution. However, some voices within the NCP and the government have recently called for amending the constitution to allow him to run for the presidency again.
Also, earlier this month, Sudan’s Sufi orders announced support for al-Bashir’s reelection for another term in 2020 praising his significant efforts to unify Muslims in Sudan.
Al-Bashir who came to power through a coup d’état in June 1989 will have ruled Sudan for 31 years by the year 2020.
In March 2012, al-Bashir said he wouldn’t seek his re-election in April 2015 but he ran and won in an election that was boycotted by the major opposition parties.
In August 2016, he said “I’m not a dictator and I don’t want to cling to power. I won’t run for another term, my term will end by 2020 and I won’t be able to run again according to the constitution and the constitution won’t be amended”.
NCP leading figure and Presidential Envoy for Diplomatic Contact and Negotiation for Darfur Amin Hassan Omer told Sudan Tribune that al-Bashir wouldn’t submit to the calls for his reelection, saying the latter seeks to strengthen the national unity and build the NCP and its new leadership.
“Neither the party constitution nor the state constitution allow for more candidacy for the president,” he said.
He pointed out that the initiative to amend the constitution rests at the hands of the president, saying “I don’t think the president would seek to amend the constitution to allow himself to run again because he said he wouldn’t stand for reelection”.
Omer added the NCP Reform Document has laid out the approach to renew the leadership and to trade responsibilities within the party and the state, saying al-Bashir is among the strongest supporters of the document.
It is noteworthy that Omer had objected to al-Bashir’s candidacy in 2015 elections, accusing former Vice-President Ali Osman Taha of exercising “moral coercion” to influence members of the NCP Shura and Leadership Councils to nominate al-Bashir for a new term.
He ruled out that any party could put pressure on al-Bashir to force him to accept running for office again, saying “no one could force the president to take any decision let alone such decisions as amending the constitution or candidature”.
Speaking before large crowds in the Gazira State in central Sudan last week, al-Bashir said he is ready to support the candidacy of the governor of Gezira State Mohamed Tahir Eila for the presidency in 2020.
However, Eila was quick to respond to al-Bashir’s gesture by announcing his full support for the latter’s reelection in 2020.
Also, during the visit to Gazira State, al-Bashir received a document titled “covenant and charter” signed by the Gazira State people supporting his running for office in 2020.
Al-Bashir’s candidacy for the 2020 elections must be formally adopted by the NCP institutions including the Shura Council and the General Conference which is expected to be held in October next year.
Also, the amendment of the constitution must be approved by the political parties participating in the National Dialogue and the Government of the National Accord.
For his part, the political secretary of the Popular Congress Party (PCP) Al-Amin Abdel-Rzig has warned against any breach of the national dialogue outcome which calls to draft a permanent constitution to be approved by an elected parliament in 2020.
He told Sudan Tribune that al-Bashir candidacy is limited to those who called for his reelection, saying “al-Bashir is currently the head of the Government of National Accord and not the head of the NCP government”.
On the other hand, member of the Reform Now Movement (RNM) Leadership Council Osama Tawfiq told Sudan Tribune he is convinced the constitution would be amended to allow al-Bashir run for office again.
“Al-Bashir wouldn’t agree to be a former president, he is either be a sitting president or a late president,” he said.
“As long as al-Bashir continues to be wanted by the International Criminal Court (ICC), he wouldn’t allow anyone to run for presidency because no matter who that person is he might hand him over to the tribunal,” he added.
Tawfiq said the ICC decision has paved the road for al-Bashir to rule “forever”, saying the international community seeks to maintain the status quo in Sudan to serve its own interests.
The ICC issued two arrest warrants against al-Bashir in 2009 and 2010 for alleged war crimes, crimes against humanity and genocide committed in Darfur.
However, member of the Democratic Unionist Party and Minister of Information Ahmed Belal Osman has expressed intentions to amend the constitution to allow al-Bashir to run for elections in 2020.
He told the Khartoum-based Al-Jareeda newspaper on Friday “if no consensus was reached, we would amend the constitution. The constitution is not the Quran and we will approve an amendment that meets our desire to nominate the president for a third term.”
“Our demand to nominate al-Bashir for a third term was not meant to appease him, we actually need al-Bashir to stay in power because we aspire to implement further reforms,” he said.