Sudan's Omar al-Bashir 'to step down in 2020'

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Media caption,

Sudan's President Omar al-Bashir spoke exclusively to BBC News

Sudan's President Omar al-Bashir has told the BBC he will step down in 2020, when his current mandate ends.

Mr Bashir also denied allegations of abuses perpetrated by the Sudanese forces in renewed violence against black African villages who took up arms in the country's western Darfur region.

The president has been indicted by the International Criminal Court (ICC) on counts of genocide and war crimes.

Mr Bashir has been in power since 1989. He won elections in April last year.

He told the BBC's Thomas Fessy that his job was "exhausting" and his current term would be his last.

"In 2020, there will be a new president and I will be an ex-president," he said.

However, sceptics will say that he had already pledged to step down in the past and later went back on his word, our correspondent says.

'No aerial bombing'

The UN says more than 2.5 million people have been displaced in Darfur since 2003 - with more than 100,000 this year alone.

Image source, Reuters
Image caption,
Mr Bashir's supporters carried a mock coffin of the ICC after he returned to Sudan in June 2015

President Bashir said that there was no reason for the UN peacekeepers and aid workers to stay in the troubled Darfur region.

He denied reports of recent abuses in the mountains of Jebel Marra where government forces launched an offensive in January.

"All these allegations are baseless, none of these reports is true," he said.

"We challenge anyone to visit the areas recaptured by the armed forces, and find a single village that has been torched.

"In fact, there hasn't been any aerial bombing."

Bashir at a glance:

Image source, Reuters
Image caption,
The president said that evidence of popularity in Sudan could clearly be seen the huge crowds that greeted him everywhere
  • Fights in Egyptian army in 1973 Arab-Israeli war
  • Seizes power in Sudan in 1989 coup
  • Gives asylum to al-Qaeda leader Osama bin Laden in 1990s
  • First head of state indicted by ICC in 2009
  • Accused of war crimes in Darfur; denies charges
  • Makes peace with southern rebels in 2005
  • Oversees south's secession in 2011

The president said that people who fled the fighting had gone to government-controlled areas which was "proof that the government does not target citizens".

President Bashir said that UN estimates that more than 100,000 people have been displaced in Darfur since January because of the fighting were "highly inflated and not real".

"Only a very small number of people have been displaced and they have either reached our positions or [gone to] where the UN peacekeepers [Unamid] are deployed.

The president said that UN forces and Unamid "have no vital role to play" in Darfur, "not even in defending themselves and their units".

"As peace has returned to Darfur, I think that they have no role to undertake and that's why we want them to leave."

Likewise he said there was no role in the region for aid workers because there is no food crisis in Darfur.

He said that estimates that 2.5 million people were living in camps in Darfur were "much too inflated" and the true figure is closer to 160,000.

The president dismissed the ICC as a "politicised tribunal" and that evidence of his popularity in Sudan could clearly be seen by the huge crowds that greet him.

"These are the same crowds I'm accused of having committed genocide and ethnic cleansing against. This is why I've defied the tribunal, and [why] I've been travelling freely around the world."

Mr Bashir was re-elected last year with about 94% of the vote in an election boycotted by the main opposition parties who said it was not free and fair.

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