Who is Omar al-Bashir?

Reading Time: 2 minutes

omar al-bashir backgrounder

Omar al-Bashir was a career military man who, along with a group of Sudanese military officers, led a coup to oust the leaders of Sudan in 1989. In short order al-Bashir consolidated power and eliminated his potential opponents, eventually appointing himself president of the country.

In the mid-1990s he was elected President of Sudan in an election where he was the only legal candidate. He has led the nation as President since that time acting with near-absolute authority over both political and economic policies within Sudan.

Al-Bashir merged Islam to politics during his first decade in power. Sharia law was imposed and began to tear apart the social fabric of the already war-torn nation.

FROM KHARTOUM, HIS RULE WAS BASED ON HIS ISLAMIST-MILITARY ALLIANCE, PRESENTING HIMSELF AS A LEADER OF THE 1990S WAVE OF “POLITICAL ISLAM” WHILE BUILDING TIES WITH VIOLENT JIHADIS. USING ISLAMIST IDEOLOGY AS A RALLYING CRY, AL-BASHIR CREATED LOYALIST MILITIAS TO PROTECT HIS RULE AND BUILT A POLITICAL MACHINE OF BUSINESSMEN AND POLITICIANS THAT HELD A LOCK ON POWER AND AMASSED MASSIVE WEALTH IN THE IMPOVERISHED NATION. HAMZA HENDAWI ASSOCIATED PRESS

In the 1990s, under al-Bashir, Sudan gained the reputation as a state sponsor of terrorism after providing safety to several high-profile international terrorists including Osama bin Laden. While al-Bashir proved flexible in dealing with the international community and the United States regarding such infamous terrorists, greater outrage and infamy was gained regarding his dealings with South Sudan.

Civil war between north and south Sudan predated the ascent of al-Bashir to the presidency but it was under his leadership when the violence intensified along with the brutality.

As this war was winding down the atrocities in Darfur were rising. Darfur is known as the first genocide of the 21st century. More than 480,000 were killed and 1.8 million displaced. It was at this time that Omar al-Bashir was indicted by the International Criminal Court genocide, war crimes and crimes against humanity. Before his ouster in 2019, al-Bashir was the only actively serving head of state wanted for such crimes.

The end of the civil war in Sudan resulted in the separation of the country and the formation of an independent South Sudan.

See also: Profile – Omar al-Bashir (BBC)

In April 2019 al-Bashir was ousted from office by the military. This was in response to the ongoing protests sweeping across the cities of Sudan. At the end of August 2019 the forme strongman of Sudan, Omar al-Bashir was indicted on charges of possessing illicit foreign currency and corruption. He has yet to face charges for killing protesters in Sudan. He is still wanted by the International Criminal Court on charges related to the genocide in Darfur.