Sudan’s President Omar al-Bashir says he will step down by 2020 and has no plans to run for another term in office.
“In 2020, there will be a new president and I will be an ex-president,” Bashir said in an interview with the BBC Arabic Service on Wednesday, adding that his job is “exhausting” and that his current term would be his last.
Bashir has been in power since a 1989 coup, and has been elected president three times since then.
He faces International Criminal Court (ICC) charges of genocide and war crimes in the 2003 conflict in the western region of Darfur.
The Sudanese president, who was last re-elected in April 2015, dismissed the ICC tribunal for him as “politicized” and claimed that the accusations leveled against him by the court have increased his popularity among the Sudanese people and paved the way for his victory in the elections last year.
Bashir also denied New York-based Human Rights Watch (HRW) allegations of abuses perpetrated by the Sudanese government forces in recent clashes in the country’s Darfur.
“All these allegations are baseless, none of these reports is true,” he said. “We challenge anyone to visit the areas recaptured by the armed forces, and find a single village that has been torched.
He further stressed that the security and humanitarian situation in the region have greatly improved, adding that the United Nations African Union Mission in Darfur (UNAMID) and aid groups are no longer needed there.
UN: 138,000 displaced in Darfur
In a separate report released by the UN on Wednesday, Herve Ladsous, the world body’s peacekeeping chief, said the escalation in fighting in Darfur has forced 138,000 people to flee their homes since mid-January and there is no end in sight to the 13-year conflict in the western Sudanese region.
He referred to the number of casualties as unknown since, he said, the Sudanese government has blocked access to the UNAMID peacekeeping forces in the region.
Bashir, however, said, “Only a very small number of people have been displaced and they have either reached our positions or [gone to] where the UN peacekeepers are deployed.”
Darfur has been the scene of violence since 2003, when rebels took up arms against the government in Khartoum. There has also been tribal fighting in the region.
UNAMID was launched in 2007 in a bid to protect civilians and restore stability to the restive region.
The UN estimates that the violence in Darfur has so far killed some 300,000 people. Khartoum, however disputes the figure, estimating the death toll to be no more than 10,000.