Bashir, Omar Hassan Ahmed al-

The Columbia Encyclopedia, 6th ed.

Bashir, Omar Hassan Ahmed al-

Omar Hassan Ahmed al- Bashir, 1944–, Sudanese military and political leader, president of Sudan (1994–). He graduated from the Sudanese military academy (1966) and a Cairo military college and became a career army officer, ultimately rising to the rank of general. He served with Egyptian forces during the 1973 Arab-Israeli war, was military attaché to the United Arab Emirates (1975–79), headed a airborne brigade (1981–87), and served as defense minister (1989–93).

In June, 1989, he led a coup that overthrew Prime Minister Sadiq al-Mahdi and became chairman of the Revolutionary Command Council. In 1990 he reorganized the government, giving greater power to Islamists, and a year later he introduced sharia in most of the country. Two years later civilian rule was reintroduced, and Bashir appointed himself president; he was elected to the post in 1996. An attempt by parliament to limit his powers led him to declare a state of emergency and dissolve the legislature; he was reelected in 2000. He remained president when an interim government was established in 2005 under a power-sharing agreement with S Sudanese rebels. Atrocities committed by goverment forces and allied militias during fighting against rebels in Darfur led the International Criminal Court to indict Bashir for war crimes in 2009 and issue a warrant for his arrest. Bashir was reelected president in 2010 and 2014, but the former election was marred by charges of fraud and the latter involved no significant opponent.

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