Sudan Gets a New President But not a New Leader

President Omar al-Bashir - Wanted for War Crimes

The Sudanese President Omar al-Bashir has been sworn into office again, following his controversial win in last month’s elections.  Bashir is wanted by the International Criminal Court (ICC) for alleged war crimes in Darfur.  It seems many world leaders stayed away from the inauguration but at least five African presidents attended the event.

The UN said it was sending the heads of the two UN peacekeeping missions in the country to the ceremony.  Taking the oath of office, President Bashir addressed parliament in Khartoum for around 30 minutes.

Presidents from Ethiopia, Chad, Malawi, Mauritania, and Djibouti were in the audience. But the international rights organisation Human Rights Watch (HRW) said governments committed to justice in Darfur should have stayed away from President Bashir’s inauguration. Ibrahim Ghandour, a senior figure in the president’s National Congress Party, said HRW was wrong. “The Sudanese people can see that Human Rights Watch is unfair to the Sudanese issues in general,” he said ahead of the ceremony. “I think that the first defeat is the fact that at least five presidents are attending the inauguration. “And the second defeat came when the UN declared that it would be present at the inauguration of the new presidency term.”

Amnesty International, in its annual report,  said widespread abuses were continuing in Darfur, although the conflict was less intense than in previous years. Last month’s elections, the first multi-party polls in 24 years, have been recognised internationally, despite their flaws.

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