Sudan’s president has replaced the top leadership of his armed forces, the army says, including removing one senior officer facing US sanctions for his alleged role in the Darfur conflict. Sudan’s army spokesman told Reuters the move was nothing to do with politics but was part of an annual review of senior posts, promoting officers to replace commanders who had reached retirement age.
President Omar Hassan al-Bashir removed five generals, including the deputy chairman of the joint chiefs of staff of the armed services General Mohammed Ahmed Awad Ibn Auf, blacklisted by Washington for his role as the army’s head of military intelligence and security during the Darfur conflict. Auf is included on Washington’s list of Specially Designated Nationals which freezes any of their assets in the States and blocks U.S. nationals from doing business with them.
Sudan is also facing UN sanctions over the seven-year Darfur conflict. The International Criminal Court has issued arrest warrants for Bashir and two other men to face war crimes charges in region. Khartoum has refused to deal with the court. Sudan’s state news agency Suna, which announced the army changes, described Bashir as the supreme leader of all the armed services, a title which he had dropped in the run up to his victory in April elections.
Suna said Bashir had appointed Ismat Abdel Rahman Zein al-Abdin as the chairman of the joint chiefs of staff replacing Mohamed Abdul-Gadir Nasruddin. It also announced replacements for the other retiring officers. Bashir’s last major reshuffle of his military top brass, which put Nasruddin into the top job, took place in 2008.
Separately, the United Nations named Nigerian Major General Moses Bisong Obi as the new head of its peacekeeping force in Sudan.
Meanwhile, Al-Bashir will not be among the 20 African heads of state at the opening ceremony of the World Cup in South Africa, the South African Press Association reports. The agency quoted international relations director general Ayanda Ntsaluba as saying Bashir would not be joining African leaders like Zimbabwe’s Robert Mugabe to witness the start of the first World Cup hosted by the continent. “He was invited to the World Cup opening ceremony, but he indicated that he won’t be coming,” Ntsaluba said.
Last month South African President Jacob Zuma said his government had invited Bashir — wanted by the International Criminal Court on charges of war crimes — to the continent’s first World Cup along with the rest of Africa’s leadership. But Zuma hinted in response to a question in parliament that South Africa had a responsibility to arrest him should he come, as dictated by international law.