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President Bashir’s swearing- in ceremony



President Bashir’s Swearing- in Ceremony

Today 2 June 2015, President Omar al Bashir has started a new term of office. The swearing-in ceremony took place in the presence of tens of Heads of State or their representatives.

There are good grounds for optimism in the Sudan in view of many factors:
The economy is now recovering, as the strict reforms worked out with the IMF and economic experts begin to bear fruit. The challenges caused by the shortfall resulting from the loss of oil wells after secession of South Sudan have been managed and overcome.

In his swearing-in speech, President Bashir highlighted the economy and promised to create a conducive atmosphere for stability and prosperity. In this respect, the president underlined the importance of peace and security for all citizens. He expressed appreciation of the role of the army and security services. Their efforts would be complemented with political factors that include reconciliation and strengthening the home front in a country that is wide enough for all its citizens.
In his swearing-in ceremony speech, President Bashir has declared a comprehensive pardon of all those carrying arms against the State. He called upon all opposition factions to return home and take part in national construction.
Reserves in minerals, especially gold are huge. With agriculture they will secure economic well-being and prosperity for all.

The President emphasised the importance of continuing to reform the economy, improve productivity, combat corruption and nepotism and ensure democratic transformation along moderate Islamic principles. He reiterated his pre-election promise to resume the Inclusive National Dialogue which is the peaceful way to probe common grounds and reach a national consensus.

Along these lines, relations with neighbouring countries, African Union members and Arab League would be enhanced. As far as the West is concerned, he referred to “common interests” as basis for engagement and cooperation.

A firm basis is already in place:
The Sudan has been asked officially by the UN to mediate between the warring factions in neighbouring Libya. IGAD has likewise asked the Sudan and its president to help bring peace to the Republic of South Sudan. President Bashir has already succeeded in bridging the gap between Egypt and Ethiopia and hosting a summit last March in which President A. Sisi of Egypt and PM of Ethiopia Hailemariam Desalegn signed a framework agreement that put an end to tensions about the Renaissance Dam.

The ICC’s decision to “freeze” its work on Darfur was not surprising, because President Bashir has carried on despite the ICC distractions and achieved a conclusion of the Comprehensive Peace Agreement with a successful Referendum that resulted in the peaceful birth of the Republic of South Sudan. Those who expected the Sudan to scupper the Referendum, or take the opportunity of the current internecine fighting to seize the Southern oilfields were proven wrong.

The International Crisis Group has, albeit grudgingly, acknowledged that Sudan’s relations with the Gulf States have improved and that increased gold exports have relived the “economic pressure”.

The prescient words of the former UK Foreign Minister William Hague (during whose term of office the UK declared that it had no sanctions on the Sudan) ring louder now. He said when he chaired the UN Security Council’s meeting on Sudan (16 November 2010): “A stable Sudan will help build security and prosperity in the region…it will help the Sudanese people receive the tangible benefits of peace that have eluded them for so long”.

US sanctions notwithstanding, the Sudan has built an extensive motorway network as well as Dams and Bridges. Universities and secondary schools were established. Women were empowered and the Inclusive National Dialogue that will include leaders of the small pockets of troubles in South Kordofan and Blue Nile states will soon be resumed.

The timing of two other events is not seen as coincidental. On 26 May a US coast guard visited Port Sudan for a 2-day visit. This comes in the wake of partial lifting of some secondary sanctions on Sudan. The second significant event was the speech of the EU ambassador to the Sudan, Tomas Ulicny (13 May 2015) on the occasion of Europe Day and Europe’s year of Development. He spelled out what is well known but seldom acknowledged when he said: “In the wake of alarming developments in Libya, Yemen, Iraq, Somalia, South Sudan and the Central African Republic, we are interested in strengthening of productive cooperation and coordination with regional actors including Sudan and its government…”
The Sudan is key to stability in the whole region. President Bashir’s next years as leader will see that consolidated.
One of the main drivers of “alarming developments” is Islamist extremism, especially ISIS and its imitators. General David Petraeus, former CIA head has made an important statement telling the BBC’s Jonathan Marcus that “you cannot deal with an industrial-strength extremist problem with just force of arms. You have to have the political component as well.”

He has put his finger on the flaw in the West’s (or rather the US’s) sanctions policy on the Sudan. To cold shoulder moderate Muslims, like President Bashir, and believe that one can confront Muslim extremism ideologically is a fallacy. Only Muslim moderation can defeat Muslim extremism.

The swearing-in ceremony heralds both a continuation and a new phase. Development and democratic transformation will be reinforced while a new push to reach overall peace in the country is a most promising turning point.

Media Office
2 June 2015