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Washington didn’t ask al-Bashir to step down by 2020: Sudan’s FM

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Sudan's Foreign Minister Ibrahim Ghandour shakes hand with John Sullivan U.S. Deputy Secretary of State on 14 September 2014 (ST Photo)
December 15, 2017 (KHARTOUM) - Sudan’s Foreign Minister Ibrahim Ghandour denied Washington has linked normalization of relations with Khartoum to the departure of President Omer al-Bashir saying there is “obvious popular desire” to re-nominate the latter for a third term in office.

Al-Bashir’s term ends in 2020 and he couldn’t run for office again according to the constitution.

However, some voices within the ruling National Congress Party (NCP) and its partners in the Government of National Consensus have recently called for amending the constitution to allow him to run for the presidency again.

In an interview with the London-based Asharq Al-Awsat newspaper on Friday, the Sudanese top diplomat denied Washington has linked the normalization of relations with Khartoum to the removal of al-Bashir from office.

“The United States didn’t set any conditions to the normalizations of ties,” he said

“There was no indication or talk [from the U.S. side] about President al-Bashir, otherwise we would have rejected it immediately … al-Bashir is the president of Sudan and the others should only talk about him with due respect” he added

Ghandour said there is “obvious popular desire” to re-elect al-Bashir despite the fact that the latter has repeatedly said he wouldn’t run for elections again.

However, he pointed out that the recent debate on the issue was meant to stir up confusion on the political situation in the country.

Al-Bashir in March 2012 said he wouldn’t seek his re-election in April 2015 but he ran and won in an election that was boycotted by the major opposition parties.

In August 2016, he said “I’m not a dictator and I don’t want to cling to power. I won’t run for another term, my term will end by 2020 and I won’t be able to run again according to the constitution and the constitution won’t be amended”.

Last October, the U.S. Administration permanently lifted 20-year-old economic sanctions against Sudan citing positive actions on humanitarian access and counter-terrorism.

However, Washington left other sanctions in place for the time being, including those against individuals with arrest warrants related to atrocities committed during the conflict in Darfur.

Also, it didn’t remove Sudan’s name from the list of state sponsors of terrorism.

The two countries are engaged in a five-track process towards the full normalization of relations.

The process includes the fight against terrorism, Uganda’s Lord’s Resistance Army (LRA), Sudan’s role in the peace process in South Sudan, Sudan’s peace and the humanitarian situation in Darfur, South Kordofan and Blue Nile states.

(ST)

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