November 7, 2012 (KHARTOUM) – Sudan’s President Omer Al-Bashir checked out of a hospital in the Saudi capital Riyad on Wednesday after undergoing a “successful” surgery that removed a lipoma in his larynx, state media has reported as various rumours about his health and even death continue to abound.
- Sudan President Omer Al-Bashir
According to the Sudan News Agency (SUNA), the president left the hospital to the place of his residence in Riyad, where he arrived on Monday to receive a “medical checkup” and meet with Saudi officials, as initially reported by official media.
A day later, however, state media reported a different story saying that the president had undergone a “minor and successful” operation in a hospital without giving further details.
Official sources, speaking to Sudan Tribune on condition of anonymity, justified this by saying that the operation was not anticipated but rather necessitated by the results of the tests he took.
Presidential spokesperson Imad Said Ahmad later told SUNA that the “minor” operation had successfully dealt with throat inflammations the president has been struggling with for a while. He announced that his boss has totally recovered.
But his assertion did little to dispel widespread rumors in the country about the health of the 68-year-old ruler. Speculations about Al-Bashir’s health have been on the rise since the government admitted in August that he underwent a minor surgery on his vocal chords in Qatar.
The rumors have been fueled further by the fact that since the time of his first operation in August, he has made few appearances and refrained from giving public speeches.
Another rumor broke out on Wednesday that Al-Bashir had died in hospital, but the presidential spokesperson told reporters in the capital Khartoum that the president is in good health and will leave the hospital in 24 hours.
Ahmad said that the operation was a “100 percent success”, adding that it removed a larynx lipoma that had been making the president’s voice very throaty.
“Mr. President underwent an operation classified as minor to remove what is known as a lipoma that caused a vacuum between vocal cords, which made his voice throaty” he said.
If the official’s description of Al-Bashir’s condition is accurate, it means that the president is infected with a very uncommon type of lipomas.
Medical studies show that less than 15 percent of lipomas, which are benign tumors composed of mature fat cells, affect head, neck and that larynx is the least common area. According to a medical study done in 2008, lipomas in the larynx “can sometimes be deadly” because they might cause airway obstruction.
Meanwhile, state media continues to broadcast reports assuring the public about the president’s health. SUNA quoted the Sudanese ambassador in Riyad, Abdel Hafiz Ibrahim, as saying that the president has left the hospital in perfect health. He added that Al-Bashir is in a period of recovery and abiding by the doctor’s instructions to reduce talking.
The diplomat added that the president is due to meet a Saudi official today, Thursday, and invited representatives of media outlets to attend and cover the meeting in order to “put an end to rumors”.
Some local newspapers on Wednesday quoted Al-Bashir’s brother Mohammed Hassan as saying that his brother “is fine and in perfect health after undergoing he operation”.
He further stressed that his brother “is not suffering from a dangerous disease as some [people] try to rumor”. According to him, Al-Bashir is merely suffering from inflammations in vocal cords, and that he can easily speak and make his voice heard in any meeting”.
In a related development, the London-based Al-Hayat newspaper said in a report published on Wednesday that Sudanese security authorities banned pro-government columnist Ishaq Ahmad Fadul Allah from writing after he wrote a column last week about the phenomenon of the death of a number of African leaders this year like Ethiopia’s Prime Minister and Ghanian President.
According to the paper, Fadul Allah, who enjoys close relations with the country’s officials and security apparatus, was suspended because he wrote in that column that the same fate of death currently awaits two other African presidents.
Deputy speaker of the Sudanese parliament, Hagou Gasm Al-Said, told reporters in the capital Khartoum on Tuesday that the ruling National Congress Party should immediately begin preparations to name a successor for Al-Bashir.
He called on his party to present the suitable alternative who can win the trust of the people.
Al-Bashir has been ruling Sudan since taking power in an Islamist-backed military coup in 1989. In 2009 he became the first sitting head of state to be issued with an arrest warrant from the International Criminal Court (ICC) for war crimes and crimes against humanity committed in the Darfur conflict, which according to the UN, led to the death of 300,000 people and displacement of 2.7 million in 2003-2004.
The ICC ruling has restricted Al-Bashir to traveling to non-signatories to the Rome Statute, which includes Saudi Arabia. Elsewhere in the world he risks implementation of the warrant and potentially trial at the Hague-based tribunal.