Sudan's Bashir to give speech, after surgery last month

KHARTOUM Sun Dec 23, 2012 9:16pm GMT

Sudan's President Omar Hassan al-Bashir (C) is welcomed by First Vice President Ali Osman Taha (L) after arriving at Khartoum Airport September 28, 2012. REUTERS/Mohamed Nureldin Abdallah

Sudan's President Omar Hassan al-Bashir (C) is welcomed by First Vice President Ali Osman Taha (L) after arriving at Khartoum Airport September 28, 2012.

Credit: Reuters/Mohamed Nureldin Abdallah

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KHARTOUM (Reuters) - Sudan's President Omar Hassan al-Bashir will address the nation and open a major dam on Sudan's national holiday next week, in one of his first major public appearances since undergoing surgery last month, state news agency SUNA said on Sunday.

Sudanese blogs and newspapers had been speculating about Bashir's health because he has cut down public rallies in the past few months.

The 68-year-old leader, who seized power in 1989, went to Saudi Arabia in November for what officials described as a "minor surgery". He also underwent surgery on his vocal cords in Qatar in August.

Bashir will travel to Blue Nile state capital El Damazin for Sudan's independence day on January 1 to open a major dam and give a "speech to the Sudanese nation", SUNA said.

Bashir, who is wanted by the International Criminal Court for alleged war crimes in the Darfur region, gave a speech broadcast on television after his operation in Saudi Arabia but has otherwise been less present in public recently.

The veteran leader is known for his fiery speeches and for dancing and waving his walking stick at public events.

Over a 23-year span in power, Bashir has weathered armed rebellions, years of U.S. trade sanctions, an arrest warrant from the International Criminal Court, waves of student protests and the secession of oil-producing South Sudan last year.

(Reporting by Ulf Laessing; Editing by Stephen Powell)

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