Bashir Should Surrender, Coalition Partner Says

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Three days of polling are set to begin in Sudan on April 11th. The newly-elected president and parliament should be announced a week later.

[Global: Africa]

A partner in President Omar Al-Bashir’s ruling coalition government is calling upon the Sudanese strongman to give himself up to the International Criminal Court (ICC) in The Hague.

In a move that has sent shockwaves amongst Sudanese politics as the country gets ready for next month’s general elections, Edward Lino, the Sudanese Peoples Liberation Movement (SPLM) candidate for governor of Khartoum and the SPLM chief of intelligence, said:

"President Bashir has no option but to respond to what the ICC is putting up. He has to go. If he does not go, he will be taken there."

Lino went on to add that the Sudanese leader was no exception from other dignitaries who have since been marched to The Hague to face crimes against humanity charges. “For the good of the country, President Bashir should take leave and then go to The Hague,” he said.

Former Liberian President Charles Taylor and former Bosnian-Serb leader Radovan Karadzic are two former heads of state brought to stand trial. 

The SPLM is a coalition partner with Gen Bashir’s ruling National Congress Party (NCP). It is almost unheard of for a senior member in a coalition partnership to call for the arrest of the leader of the very government his party belongs to. 

Three days of polling are set to begin in Sudan on April 11th. The newly-elected president and parliament should be announced a week later. Last week Chief Khalil Ibrahim, a leader from the Justice and Equality Movement (JEM) a rebel group from Darfur, urged Gen Omar al-Bashir to delay the elections so that Darfur can participate fully.

Bashir responded that Darfur was now secure and stable and that elections would not be postponed. The elections are a key part of the 2005 Comprehensive Peace Agreement that ended Sudan’s 22-year long civil war between the north and south. Tensions remain high in the south, with clashes continuing between rival ethnic groups. More than 2,500 people were feared killed and almost 400,000 displaced last year alone.

Last year Gen. Bashir was indicted for war crimes and crimes against humanity during Sudan's seven-year rebellion in Darfur. He rejected the court's sovereignty and has since expelled 13 aid agencies, accusing them of providing the ICC with information. Sudan's north-south civil war was separate from the Darfur conflict which, despite multiple peace deals, still festers on in the vast desert west.

Problems in the Sudan have been described by the International Crisis Group (ICS) as "one of the world's longest running and most intractable conflicts."

In its March report, ICS said: “With a devastating toll of death and destruction in its wake, the Sudanese civil war has often left a divided international community looking painfully ineffectual as it gropes to push the warring parties toward a meaningful peace process. The crisis in Sudan's western Darfur province has steadily worsened since the rebellion began there in February 2003, with the Khartoum government conducting a scorched earth policy against its citizens that has left 300,000 dead and 2.6-million displaced.”

The indictment of Gen Bashir by the ICC was described by ICS as "a victory for the conflicts countless victims." It said the move offered a rare opportunity to change for the better the political dynamics in Khartoum. The Group called upon the international community to "use the levers at its disposal" to press Khartoum to commit to a meaningful peace process. 

Gombya is The Black Star News Europe News Editor and Africa contributor based in London

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