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Bashir Set to Extend Rule
International

Bashir Set to Extend Rule

Sudan's President Omar al-Bashir is expected to win a landslide victory in elections this week, extending a 25-year reign in which the country has endured multiple insurgencies and the secession of the oil-rich south, AP reported.
Despite Sudan's seemingly perpetual unrest, al-Bashir survived the 2011 Arab Spring. His ruling party dominates the parliament and local councils.
Al-Bashir has ruled the country since taking power in a 1989 coup, but billboards across Khartoum showing him in traditional robes or military fatigues proclaim: "We lead reform, we continue the renaissance."
The unrest sweeping the region may have convinced many Sudanese that al-Bashir's continued rule is preferable to the even greater chaos that could follow his departure.
"The states' collapse and the fall of the army in several Arab countries in the aftermath of the Arab uprisings made people think twice before moving against al-Bashir and calling for his immediate departure," said rights lawyer Nabil Adeeb. "For many, Sudan could turn into a new Somalia."
Nearly 13 million people are registered to vote for president and the 450-member legislative council starting Monday. Some 11,000 polling centers will be open through Wednesday, and results are expected on April 27.
The vote is being greeted with widespread apathy, in part because the 15 candidates allowed to compete with al-Bashir are virtually unknown to the public. The government is nevertheless hoping for a wide turnout, and many expect a repeat of the vote-rigging that took place during the first multi-candidate election in 2010, when al-Bashir won with 68 percent.
And yet the vote is not entirely meaningless, at least for al-Bashir himself, and religious authorities have instructed Muslim clerics to encourage people to vote.
As long as he remains in office, al-Bashir will not be sent to the International Criminal Court on charges of orchestrating genocide during the Darfur conflict, which left 300,000 people dead and 2 million displaced.
The president also hopes to preserve a veneer of legitimacy as he tries to improve relations with countries that can help bail Sudan out economically.
Sudan recently joined the Saudi-led coalition bombing the Houthi rebels in Yemen, perhaps hoping for aid from the petroleum-rich (Persian) Gulf.

 

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