Sudan's Bashir will not be sent to the ICC until Darfur peace agreement is signed

Sudan's Bashir will not be sent to the ICC until Darfur peace agreement is signed
The announcement that ex-dictator Bashir could be handed over to the ICC has an important caveat.
3 min read
11 February, 2020
A rebel faction negotiator said Bashir will not immediately be sent to the ICC [AFP]
The handover of former Sudanese leader Omar Al-Bashir and others indicted by the International Criminal Court for war crimes in Darfur will not happen until Khartoum comes to a final peace agreement with rebel groups from the region, a top negotiator has said.

"This agreement is not going to be implemented immediately, rather when we sign the final peace agreement," Ahmed Tugod Lissan told VOA Africa reporter Jason Patinkin.

Lissan, a lead negotiator for the Justice and Equality Movement (JEM) at peace talks between the Sudanese transitional government and rebel groups in Juba, said a final truce is expected "in the coming few weeks".

Government negotiator Mohammed Hassan Al-Taishi stated earlier on Tuesday that "those who have been indicted by the ICC... have to go there", creating a ripple of anticipation in Sudan and across the world.

Bashir is among four former Sudanese officials indicted by the ICC on charges of war crimes, crimes against humanity and genocide in the Darfur conflict.

Taishi's statement was echoed by Information Minister Faisal Saleh who confirmed that Sudanese indictees would appear before the Hague-based court.

But the government officials' failure to name those concerned or state when the handover would take place prompted concern among certain circles that the decision may not yet have been confirmed by both the military and civilian factions of the transitional regime.

Read more: Who else could go before the ICC?

Lissan confirmed to VOA Africa that both parties had agreed Khartoum "should fully and unlimitedly cooperate with the International Criminal Court", but that the agreement would not be implemented until a final peace deal had been reached.

It is unclear when such a deal will be reached.

Peace talks have been underway between a delegation from the Sudanese transitional sovereign council and rebel groups from the conflict zones of Darfur, Blue Nile and South Kordofan since October last year.

Negotiations between the transitional government and Darfur rebel groups were stalled earlier this year after eyewitnesses accused government forces of involvement in the killing of at least 65 civilians in West Darfur.

Khartoum has also agreed with Darfur rebel factions to the establishment of a special Sudanese court for those accused of crimes in the conflict but not indicted by the ICC, Lissan added.

"We are going to establish this court immediately after we sign this peace agreement and go to Sudan," he said.

"In that peace agreement, we are going to specify which dates this agreement will come into effect."

Around 300,000 people were killed over the course of the Darfur conflict and more than 2 million displaced, according to the United Nations.

Bashir has been held in the Kobar prison in the capital Khartoum since his overthrow by the military in April last year.

Bashir was sentenced to two years in a social reform facility late last year on charges of corruption.

Under Sudanese law, a person over-70 cannot go to prison. His sentence was also reduced due to old age, prosecutors said. 

He also awaits charges related to the 1989 coup that brought him to power, as well as the killing of protesters over the course of his rule. 

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