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By FRED OLUOCH
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By MOHAMMED AMIN
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Sudan is set to scrap presidential term limits after the ruling National Congress Party (NCP) in August amended its constitution to allow President Omar al-Bashir to be its candidate in the 2020 elections.

And President al-Bashir declared on October 1 that he is ready for the elections.

He said that his government would not postpone the polls even in the face of economic difficulties.

“The Sudanese people have the right to vote. We respect their opinion and have prepared ourselves for the elections,” said President al-Bashir, who appears to have changed his mind about not running for a third term after party diehards rejected his handpicked successor, Mohammed Tahir Ayala, the governor of Gezira State.

Magnus Tailor, an expert on Sudan and Uganda, said that NCP’s Shura Council was initially against President Bashir running again in 2020 but appears to have warmed up to the idea over time.

But the opposition alliance Sudan Call has launched a campaign against any attempts by President al-Bashir and his NCP to abolish presidential term limits in the Constitution.

In a statement after President al-Bashir’s announcement, Sudan Call said they will not allow the removal of the term limits because President al-Bashir and his regime are responsible for collapse of the economy.

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“It is the duty of all Sudanese, to confront him and his regime through various means of peaceful resistance. We call on all the Sudanese to take part in this campaign in order to awaken the culture of resistance and to blow up the energies of the revolution,” they said in a statement.

Some opposition parties had earlier in the year indicated that they were ready to take part in the 2020 elections if President al-Bashir did not run for a new term. They also called for an expanded democratic space, release of political detainees and the end of the civil wars in Darfur, Southern Kordofan and Blue Nile.

For its part, the NCP, which enjoys an overwhelming majority in parliament is preparing to change the Constitution but is yet to start the process in parliament.

President al-Bashir recently dissolved his government and appointed a leaner one, hoping to tame expenditure and fight corruption. But to many people, it was too little too late.

In addition to trimming the Cabinet from 31 to 21 ministers, President al-Bashir appointed Mutaz Musa as prime minister. He previously served as electricity and irrigation minister.

First Vice-President Bakri Hassan Salih was retained in his post.

The reshuffle was the fourth since the 2015 general election. Sudanese economist Mohamed Aljak said the latest measures were not enough to solve the country’s problems, including the imbalance in its trade.

The Khartoum University professor said the measures did not address some of the critical areas like high defence and security spending, the ending of civil war and the allocation of more money to agricultural production.

He further said that the overdependence on one source of revenue should be corrected as it made the government vulnerable to shocks like the secession of South Sudan in 2011.

“The problems of the Sudanese economy are severe and related to the policies, not procedural or administrative defects. So, it needs comprehensive reformation,” he said.

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