Perhaps wary of the unrest that has swept over his country’s Arab neighbors to the north, the president of Sudan, Omar al-Bashir will not seek re-election in four years, according to Rabie Abdel Ati, a senior official of the ruling National Congress Party (NCP).

The gesture, said the official, is part of a slate of reforms designed to democratize the war-torn nation.

I can confirm, 100 percent, that Bashir is not going to run for president in the next election. He will actually give a chance to different personalities to compete for the position, Abdel Ati told Agence France Presse.

But he is not under pressure... This is not in the context of the change that is happening in the Arab world.

It is happening because of the political strategy of the NCP to broaden participation.”

Bashir, aged 67, has ruled Sudan since taking power in a coup in 1989. He has also been indicted by the International Criminal Court for war crimes and genocide in Darfur region. His election”victory” last April has been questioned by opposition groups as having been engineered by fraud. Foreign observers, including the Carter Center and the European Union, said the elections did not meet international standards.

The country is also splitting up. In a referendum last month, South Sudan elected to secede from the north of the country. The southern region will become independent in July.