Sudan lawmakers postpone meeting on extending Bashir term limits

2019-02-17 12:10
Picture: AFP

Picture: AFP

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A Sudanese parliamentary committee has postponed a meeting on amending the country's constitution to allow President Omar al-Bashir to run for a new term, state media reported on Saturday.

The session, set for Sunday, has been shelved for the time being, the official SUNA news agency said, without giving a new date.

Bashir, who is facing nationwide protests against his three-decade rule, is considering running for a third term in elections scheduled for next year.

But for that to happen, lawmakers must amend the country's constitution, which currently allows presidents two five-year terms.

"The committee's meeting has been postponed and a new date will be announced," SUNA reported.

Bashir's ruling National Congress Party (NCP) and its allies have an overwhelming majority in parliament, and in August the party named the veteran leader as its candidate for the 2020 poll.

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The parliamentary committee was formed in late 2018 to consider the constitutional amendments necessary to keep Bashir in power, and it was set to meet Sunday for the first time.

Bashir, 75, swept to power in an Islamist-backed coup in 1989, but he only faced his first multi-party election in 2010.

In 2015, he took 94% of the vote in the face of opposition boycotts. He later said he would not run for a third term.

Rights groups have said both elections lacked credibility.

Bashir has proved to be a political survivor, facing down both domestic and international challenges over the years, but since December 19 he has been confronted by daily rallies across the country against his rule.

Analysts say the ongoing protest movement is the biggest threat Bashir has had to deal with since coming to power, with demonstrators calling for his resignation.

Protesters chanting "freedom, peace, justice" have taken to the streets, blaming Bashir for the country's dire economic conditions.

Officials say 31 people have died in protest-related violence so far, while Human Rights Watch has put the death toll at 51.

Bashir has remained defiant, saying the ballot box is the only route through which a government can be changed.

On Saturday, he mocked the protest campaigners who have called for his resignation.

"Those who are talking of freedom and protesting against the government were freely able to hold a press conference at the same time," SUNA quoted Bashir as saying at a meeting of the Islamic Movement, the body that offers a political and ideological base to his rule.

Protest campaigners held their first news conference earlier this week in Omdurman, the twin city of Khartoum, and urged other political groups to join their movement in "overthrowing" the regime.

Bashir insisted yet again that Sudan will "overcome" the current situation.

"We will continue with development work in spite of the crisis," he said.

Read more on:    sudan  |  east africa
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