(Reuters) - The International Criminal Court’s (ICC) prosecutor on Monday charged Sudan’s president with genocide and crimes against humanity in Darfur in a move Khartoum warns could set fire to the region.
A spokesman for Sudan said the country did not recognize the ICC indictment.
Here are some facts about Bashir:
* Bashir was born in 1944 in the Nile Valley north of Khartoum. The son of a small farmer, he graduated from Sudan’s military academy in 1966 and was a career army officer who rose to the rank of general.
* He served at least one tour of combat duty in the south against the rebel Sudan People’s Liberation Army (SPLA). In June 1989 he overthrew the democratically elected civilian government of former Prime Minister Sadeq al-Mahdi.
* In October 1993, he dissolved the military junta which brought him to power and appointed himself civilian president in a move designed to establish Islamic government in Africa’s largest country as stable and civilian-based.
* After nearly two decades of fighting in alliance with Sudan’s powerful Islamist movement, his government surprised many analysts when it forged a peace deal in 2004 with rebels seeking greater autonomy for the mostly animist or Christian south from the Muslim north.
* A cornerstone of the peace was agreement that Islamic law, sharia, would not apply in the south. The application of sharia across the ethnically and religiously diverse country had been a catalyst for the war that broke out in 1983.
* In February 2003 the first two of several rebel groups — the Sudan Liberation Army (SLA) and Justice and Equality Movement (JEM) — rose up in western Sudan, saying the government was neglecting the arid region and arming Arab militia against civilians.
* In five years an estimated 200,000 people have died of disease, hunger or as a result of violence. Experts believe 2.5 million people have been driven from their homes in the region. Khartoum says about 10,000 people have died.
* Various attempts at ceasefires and peace deals have failed and the presence of peacekeepers from the African Union and United Nations has not stopped the violence.
* During the first decade of his rule, Bashir alienated many neighbours and Western governments with his increasingly extremist interpretation of Islam and alleged support for Islamic radicals abroad.
* Saudi-born al Qaeda leader Osama bin Laden was based in Sudan in the 1990s before being expelled. Relations between Bashir’s government and the United States hit a nadir in 1998, when Washington bombed a pharmaceuticals plant near Khartoum it said was making ingredients for chemical weapons. Sudan denied the charge.
* The United States has said the violence in Darfur amounts to genocide.