Home | News    Tuesday 19 February 2019

Amendment to keep Sudan’s al-Bashir in power is “unconstitutional”, NCP figure says

Amin Hassan Omer
February 18, 2019 (KHARTOUM) - Leading figure at the ruling National Congress Party (NCP) Amin Hassan Omer has described the attempt to amend the constitution to allow President Omer al-Bashir to run for a third term in 2020 elections as “illegitimate”.

Al-Bashir’s term ends in 2020 and he couldn’t run for office again according to the constitution. Also, the NCP statute limits to two terms the nomination of the party candidate for the presidential elections.

However, the NCP Shura (consultative) Council last August amended party statute allowing al-Bashir to stay for a third term as party leader in a move that is largely seen as a prelude to amend the country’s constitution to allow him to run for presidency.

At the time, Omer rejected his party’s move saying “we must respect our covenants and refrain from making recommendations against the party statute and the state’s constitution”.

Also, 294 lawmakers representing 33 political parties last December introduced a bill to abolish presidential term limits.

In a memo to the emergency committee tasked with amending the constitution, Omer described the move as “unconstitutional”, saying the presidency is the only entity that maintains the right to initiate any amendments according to the constitution.

He added the National Legislature could consider amendments received from the presidency but doesn’t have the right to initiate any amendments.

Omer, who also holds the position of Presidential Envoy for Diplomatic Contact and Negotiation for Darfur, pointed out that the proposed amendments run against the recommendations of the national dialogue.

He further urged the emergency committee to not go ahead with the proposed amendments prior to learning the stance of the presidency on the move.

According to Omer, the proposed amendments would sabotage efforts to achieve peace and consensus.

On the other hand, the NCP official also criticized the opposition’s call for President al-Bashir to step down, saying it is illegitimate and would lead to constitutional vacuum and chaos.

On Saturday, the emergency committee for constitutional amendments abruptly cancelled its meeting scheduled for 17 February, saying the meeting was cancelled for emergency reasons.

Deadly protests have rocked Sudan since December 19, with demonstrators holding nationwide rallies calling on al-Bashir to resign.

The government said 31 people have died in the violence, while other credible reports including from Human Rights Watch says at least 51 people have been killed.

Also, dozens of demonstrators have been injured and hundreds arrested during the protests.

Al-Bashir who came to power through a coup d’état in June 1989 will have ruled Sudan for 31 years by the year 2020.

In March 2012, the Sudanese president 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.

Also, 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”.

However, last September he openly declared his readiness for the elections after his nomination for the party’s candidate by the ruling NCP Shura Council.