Why Bashir won’t head to ICC soon

Saturday January 15 2022
Omar al Bashir

Former president Omar al Bashir. PHOTO | FILE


Former Sudan president Omar al-Bashir may not be handed to the International Criminal Court soon after it emerged that his former allies who are now runing the government were incharge of operation during atrocities in Darfur that attracted charges against him.

It is understood that Gen Abdel Fattah al-Burhan — who led the coup in toppling former prime minister Dr Abdalla Hamdok — and his deputy, General Mohamed Hamdan Dagalo, were involved in quelling the revolt in Darfur that led to the atrocities.

In August last year, the Sudan Cabinet agreed to hand over Mr al-Bashir and co-accused to the Hague, a week after the same Cabinet approved law to allow Sudan to join the Rome Statute that created the ICC.

The masses continue to protest in demand for the return to civilian rule, but the Forces for Freedom and Changes — the civilian coalition that led the protests that ousted al-Bashir in April 2019 — are divided after Dr Hamdok struck a deal with Gen al-Burhan last November to regain his seat.

Jonas Horner, International Crisis Group's deputy project director in the Horn of Africa and senior analyst on Sudan, said while the calls for justice amongst civilians in Sudan over the Darfur atrocities continue to grow, the military side of the government had all along shown reluctance on the handover of Bashir and his co-accused.

“By not actively seeking justice, the military is hindering Sudan’s broader transition away from the cruel and entrenched autocracy of the Bashir years,” said Mr Horner.


Gen al-Burhan was the commander of the ground forces before al-Bashir promoted him to the post of inspector general of the army in February 2019, while Gen Dagalo is the leader of Rapid Support Forces that was seen as al-Bashir’s private militia.

Last year, ICC Prosecutor Karim Khan, signed an agreement with the then Dr Hamdok-led Sudan government to move forward in the cases against those accused of atrocities in the Darfur region.

The ICC had issued two arrest warrants against al-Bashir in March 2009 and July 2010. However, Sudan refused to cooperate because they were then not signatories to the Rome Statute, and the African countries who were supposed to arrest him when he visited, refused to comply, among them Kenya and South Africa.

Mr al Bashir faces the charges of five counts of crimes against humanity: murder, extermination, forcible transfer, torture, and rape; two counts of war crimes: intentionally directing attacks against a civilian population as such or against individual civilians not taking part in hostilities, and pillaging; three counts of genocide: by killing, by causing serious bodily or mental harm, committed between 2003 and 2008 in Darfur, Sudan.

The court also indicted two other senior figures from the al-Bashir regime: Abdel-Rahim Muhammad Hussein, who served as interior and defense minister for much of the conflict, and Ahmed Haroun, who was a senior security chief at the time and later became the leader of al-ruling Bashir's party. In addition, the court has indicted rebel leader Abdulla Banda—who is dead—and janjaweed leader Ali Kushayb, whose charges were confirmed in February.

Bahar Idriss Abu Garda, who presented himself to the court, was set free after the Pre-Trial Chamber I decided not to confirm the charges in February 2010.

Mr Abd-Al-Rahman was transferred to the ICC's custody on June 2020, after surrendering himself voluntarily in the Central African Republic, while Mr al-Bashir is in custody in Khartoum facing charges for the 1989 coup that brought him to power.