Omar al-Bashir Q&A: 'In Any War, Mistakes Happen on the Ground'

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One of the big economic stories [here] has been the expansion of the Chinese in Africa. Certainly they have expanded into Sudan. Is there a feeling that perhaps too much has been given away to the Chinese government?

As I mentioned earlier, we came with a clear vision. And given the position of the Western countries toward Sudan, and the international funding institutions like the IMF and the World Bank, we did not waste time and we started to look for new partners. From the first day, our policy was clear: To look eastward, toward China, Malaysia, India, Pakistan, Indonesia, and even Korea and Japan, even if the Western influence upon some [of these] countries is strong.

We believe that the Chinese expansion was natural because we filled the space left by Western governments, the United States, and international funding agencies, with China, Malaysia, India and other countries. The success of the Sudanese experiment in dealing with China without political conditions or pressures encouraged other African countries to look toward China.

After 20 years in power, you are now one of the longest-serving African heads of state. When will it be enough? What legacy have you not created yet?

A person's aspirations to see the betterment of their country has no ceiling. We thought that after signing the peace agreement and achieving peace in south Sudan, that this was an achievement one could end their political life with. But the agreement itself made it necessary to have the President — and the chair of the SPLA, as president of the Government of South Sudan — to continue [in their positions] to supervise the implementation of the agreement.

Four years ago, we had the general meeting for the [National Congress] party. I insisted that the party elect a new president, because we expected at the end of the party's four-year cycle that there will be general elections, so we cannot present to the Sudanese people a president who has been in power for twenty years because the Sudanese people would be naturally bored. That was my attempt in the last general conference.

Our upcoming general conference is in October, which will decide the president of the party who, according to the system, is the party's candidate for president. Political work in Sudan, as I see it, is not a comfortable task. It is tiring, exhausting, and with great responsibilities. I used to tell some presidents whose periods had ended that the best thing is to be a "former president;" someone who is respected, appreciated, and without any responsibilities.

What is your governing style? Is it very hands-on and micromanaging, or are you one who likes to delegate?

There is a wide delegation of powers. It is not possible for a president in a country like Sudan, the size of Sudan, with the immense problems of Sudan, to administer and manage everything.

So you don't control all the power or exercise all the power?

Yes, its spread out and everyone hold's their responsibility. There are regulatory agencies and in each state there are parliaments. Governors are responsible to their parliaments and to the President for their performance. I don't follow the details; no one can follow the details in a country like Sudan.

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