Sudan's President Omar al-Bashir, who has a warrant out for his arrest issued by the International Criminal Court, joined the chorus of autocratic leaders expressing optimism in the wake of President-elect Donald Trump's victory.
In an interview with Emirati daily al-Khaleej, Bashir suggested dealing with a Trump administration would be more “straightforward” and “much easier” than his predecessors. He noted with satisfaction that Trump may be less likely to lecture about human rights and civil liberties.
Trump “focuses on the interests of the American citizen, as opposed to those who talk about democracy, human rights and transparency,” Bashir said, according to the Associated Press's transcription of the interview.
“I am convinced that it will be much easier to deal with Trump than with others because he is a straightforward person and a businessman who considers the interests of those who deal with him.” he said.
Bashir has ruled Sudan since 1989. His government suppresses dissent and is embroiled in a 13-year conflict in the impoverished Darfur region. The United Nations estimates the violence has led to some 300,000 deaths and displaced more than 2.5 million people. In 2009, the International Criminal Court in The Hague issued a warrant for Bashir's arrest over alleged crimes against humanity and war crimes, and added a genocide charge in 2010. The move compels Bashir to only travel to nations that promise ahead of his arrival not to act on the warrant when he lands.
In 2014, Bashir gave a rare interview to Western media, telling my colleague Kevin Sieff that the Darfur crisis was misunderstood on the world stage and suggesting those still stuck in refugee camps had an “easy life.” He also pointed to American hypocrisy, citing police violence in Ferguson and elsewhere.
“Of course we have examples in the United States,” he said. “Even someone in his car who is asked to raise his hands and refuses, he will be shot. We've seen it. Especially if he's black.”
Such rhetoric is not so far away from that of the American president-elect, who, during the election campaign, cautioned against condemning authoritarian politics elsewhere.
“I think right now when it comes to civil liberties, our country has a lot of problems,” Trump told the New York Times, “and I think it’s very hard for us to get involved in other countries when we don’t know what we are doing and we can’t see straight in our own country.”
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