Sudan President to Continue Quarter-Century Long Reign

Sudan President to Continue  Quarter-Century Long ReignSudan President to Continue  Quarter-Century Long Reign

Sudan’s President Omar al-Bashir launched his bid for reelection Sunday, facing little threat to his quarter century in power despite an ailing economy, multiple insurgencies and allegations of war crimes.

Bashir supporters view him as a strong hand capable of holding the chaotic country together, while his opponents are hounded by the security forces, marginalized inside Sudan and torn by personal rivalries, AFP reported.

It is unclear whether anyone will challenge Bashir to lead the country of nearly 39 million people, the third-largest in Africa covering an area almost one-fifth the size of the United States.

Formal applications to register for the April 13 vote opened on Sunday, and the electoral commission said it had already received Bashir’s nomination. The opposition looks set to boycott the vote, as it did in 2010 in the first contested election since Bashir seized power in a 1989 coup.

In that vote, opposition leaders accused the president’s loyalists of rigging ballots around the country. Since 2009, the 71-year-old incumbent has defied an arrest warrant from the International Criminal Court for alleged war crimes in the nearly 12-year-old conflict in Sudan’s western region of Darfur.

In 2011, he oversaw a split with South Sudan, after it voted overwhelmingly to break away following 22 years of civil war.

Sudan faces major economic challenges with an external debt stock of $45.1 billion and nearly half of the country’s population living in poverty, according to World Bank figures.

When South Sudan broke away, it took with it 75 percent of the formerly united country’s oil production.

Insurgents are still battling government troops in Darfur as well as in Blue Nile and South Kordofan states on the South Sudan border.