Sudan’s Bashir runs for president despite warrant

Sudan’s ruling party nominated President Omar Hassan al-Bashir for re-election  despite an International Criminal Court warrant to arrest him for war crimes.
The Hague-based court says the government of Bashir, who seized power in a 1989 military coup with Islamist backing, committed crimes against humanity while fighting mostly non-Arab rebels in Darfur.
The multi-party elections set for April 2010 will be the first in Africa’s largest country in 24 years.
“The National Congress Party’s General Conference has decided to support the nomination of Omar Hassan al-Bashir as (our) candidate for the presidential elections in 2010,” the closing communique of the party conference, seen by Reuters, said.
Since the arrest warrant was issued last year, Bashir has received full backing from his party, which dominates the central government. He has travelled to countries that support him, in defiance of The Hague-based court.
The United Nations says some 300 000 people have died in Darfur, with more than 2 million driven from their homes in violence Washington describes as genocide. Khartoum rejects that description and puts the death toll at 10 000.
Bashir signed a north-south peace deal in 2005 ending another decades-long civil war fought over ideology, ethnicity, religion and oil which killed 2 million people. That deal enshrined democratic transformation and set the stage for the April vote.
The NCP is the first major political party to officially nominate a candidate for president.
Last week more than 20 Sudanese parties, along with the NCP’s partners in peace the former southern rebel Sudan People’s Liberation Movement (SPLM), threatened to boycott the vote if the NCP did not push through promised reforms in two months.
These include legislation to ensure the independence of the media and reform the powerful national security forces.
Parliament opens this week and must pass legislation delayed by wrangling over content and foot-dragging by Bashir’s party.
Bashir told the closing session of the party conference that he was “committed to free and fair elections.”

Pic: President Omar Hassan al- Bashir of Sudan