New term starts for Bashir sworn in as Sudan president

Sudanese President Omar Hassan al-Bashir was sworn in as head of Africa's biggest state facing conflict in Darfur after his re-election.

New term starts for Bashir sworn in as Sudan president

Sudanese President Omar Hassan al-Bashir was sworn in on Thursday as head of Africa's biggest state facing conflict in Darfur after his re-election.

Wearing a flowing white robe and white headdress, Bashir welcomed heads of at least five African states attending the ceremony, including Mauritania, Chad and Djibouti.


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"This phase will mark a fresh start," Bashir told a packed parliament hall. "No return to war, and there will be no place for undermining security and stability," he said.

Bashir's swearing-in follows his easy victory in an April election -- he won 68 percent of the vote -- that was marked by opposition boycotts and allegations of fraud.

Bashir's party and allies also won around 95 percent of parliamentary seats in the north, giving them more than the required two-thirds majority to make constitutional changes.


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The former southern rebel Sudan People's Liberation Movement (SPLM) won most of the southern seats, around 20 percent of the total parliament. South Sudan President and SPLM leader Salva Kiir, who appeared at the inauguration in his trademark giant cowboy hat, is in talks to form a government with Bashir.

"Ceremony"

In March 2009, the African leader became the first sitting head of state to be indicted by the International Criminal Court. He stands accused of war crimes and crimes against humanity in Darfur.

Judges are still considering whether or not to press genocide charges against Bashir over the conflict in which 300,000 people have died and 2.7 million fled their homes, according to the United Nations. Khartoum puts the death toll at 10,000.


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On Wednesday, an aide to Bashir said Khartoum had ruled out further negotiations with Darfur's most heavily armed rebel group, the Justice and Equality Movement (JEM), dashing hopes of peace in the arid desert region.

The United Nations said it would send its top two diplomats in Sudan despite criticism from human rights advocates. On Thursday, major nations like Britain and the United States were not expected to send their heads of missions, who are both out of the country. Embassies said they would follow protocol and send diplomatic representation to the ceremony.


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"Diplomats attending al-Bashir's inaugural would be making a mockery of their governments' support for international justice," said Elise Keppler, International Justice Program senior counsel at U.S.-based Human Rights Watch.

Southern former rebels are seeking to separate in a referendum on southern independence that is scheduled for January next year.


Agencies

Last Mod: 27 Mayıs 2010, 15:17
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