President of Sudan, Omar al-Bashir: urged to go in peace – Mo Ibrahim

by Adeola Raji
Telecom billionaire Dr. Mo Ibrahim has urged President Omar Al-Bashir of Sudan to step aside and “go in peace’ after almost 30 years in power.

It was the latest intervention by the businessman, who is the founder of the Mo Ibrahim Foundation and also a citizen of Sudan.

“70 per cent of the budget [in Sudan] is spent on security, armed forces, militias. It is no wonder that the country is going backwards. To be able to manage to buy food – even bread – has become difficult,” he said.

“The message is clear…they [the government] have been rejected now, completely rejected by the people. This is everywhere, in all the towns in Sudan people are coming out and saying: enough is enough.”

Mo Ibrahim: urges Al-Bashir to go in peace
Highlighting his hopes for the future of Sudan, Dr Ibrahim stated, “Please, accept a peaceful transition of power and go in peace,” he added.

Last week, his foundation had urged Al- Bashir’s government to uphold the right of the Sudanese citizens to peacefully protest and express their legitimate grievances.

“We emphasise the need for calm and call on the authorities to halt the spread of violence and prevent further instability within the country, and to ensure the people of Sudan are given a voice and space to exercise their democratic right to protest peacefully in a safe environment”.

However, Mo Ibrahim’s appeal and other admonitions by critics have been rejected by Al-Bashir, who has been in power since 1989, after overthrowing a democratic government in a coup. He had civilianised himself since then, winning elections after elections that opponents derided as unfair and not free.

He told a rally of thousands of supporters on Wednesday he would stay in power, as protesters massed a few miles away calling for him to quit over an economic crisis.

A defiant Bashir challenged his opponents to beat him at the ballot box and blamed unidentified foreign powers for provoking weeks of almost daily protests prompted by bread and currency shortages.

“(To) those who are seeking power, there is one way which is in the ballot box, through free and fair elections,” said Bashir, who opened and closed his address dancing to patriotic music and waving his cane in the air.

Across the River Nile in Omdurman, witnesses said security forces used tear gas to break up a demonstration of more than 200 people, some of whom chanted: “Freedom, freedom, peaceful against the thieves”.

Witnesses said policemen chased demonstrators into side roads, from where they regrouped to resume their protest. Hundreds also blocked a main road, witnesses said.

Protests over rising bread prices and currency shortages began on Dec. 19 in the northern city of Atbara and soon spread and turned into demonstrations against Bashir.

On Wednesday, Bashir stood on an open-air stage in central Khartoum’s Green Square and told his supporters that foreign enemies were trying to break Sudan.

“There was the war, mutiny and war … They besieged us economically to make Sudan kneel down and they are trying to humiliate us with a small amount of wheat, petrol and dollars,” Bashir said during the rally organised by his ruling party.
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