Omar Al Bashir Image Credit: Ramachandra Babu/©Gulf News

Omar Al Bashir was born in 1944 to a farming family in northern Sudan, which was then part of the Egyptian Kingdom. He is a member of Al Bedairyya Al Dahmashyya, a Bedouin tribe.

He joined the Egyptian army as a young man and rose through the ranks, fighting in the 1973 war against Israel.

Little is known about the Sudanese leader’s private life.

He has no children and when in his 50s took a second wife. He married the widow of Ebrahim Shams Al Din, considered a war hero in the north - as an example to others, he said.

He came to power in a military coup in 1989.

Al Bashir’s longevity in office, is attributed to the fact that powerful rivals in the ruling National Congress Party distrust each other more than they do Al Bashir

Al Bashir’s career has been defined by war. He came to power in a military coup in 1989.

When he seized power, Sudan was in the midst of a 21-year civil war between north and south.

He won consecutive elections in 2010 and 2015.

However, his last victory was marred by a boycott from the main opposition parties.

Before taking the helm, he was a commander in the army, responsible for leading operations in the south against the late rebel leader John Garang.

When he signed the peace deal with Garang and his Sudan People’s Liberation Movement, he took pains to stress the deal had not been a defeat. “We did not sign it after we had been broken. We signed it while we were at the peak of our victories,” he said.

His goal was always to keep a unified Sudan, but a referendum on secession for South Sudan was agreed as part of the peace deal.

In the January 2011 referendum, some 99 per cent of South Sudanese voters were in favour of separation. The independent state of South Sudan was declared six months later.

-Compiled from agencies