Sudanese opposition leader Hassan al-Turabi said President Omar al-Bashir should take responsibility for war crimes in Darfur, and surrender himself to the International Criminal Court. ICC Prosecutor Luis Moreno-Ocampo has accused President Bashir of orchestrating genocide in Darfur, where the government has been fighting rebels since 2003.
Speaking to reporters Monday in Khartoum about the possible impact if the ICC issues an arrest warrant for Mr. Bashir, al-Turabi also warned that Sudan was at risk of becoming worse than Somalia if central authority breaks down.
Richard Dicker, director of the international Justice Program at Human Rights Watch told VOA al-Turabi’s comments are well-founded.
“Before there could be any consideration by the president as to surrendering himself, there first needs to be an arrest warrant from the court. Our expectation is within four weeks time more or less such a decision will be made by the judges. My own expectation is there will be an arrest warrant and giving those conditions it would be entirely appropriate for Omar al-Bashir to take responsibility for crimes alleged in Darfur and surrender himself for a fair trial at the ICC. In that context, the statement by Al-Turabi is well-founded,” he said
At the same, Turabi also warned that Sudan was at risk of becoming worse than Somalia if central authority broke down as a result of an ICC indictment of President Bashir.
Dicker hoped Sudanese authorities would have in place a succession plan in the event President Bashir is indicted by the ICC.
“I can’t say what al-Turabi had in mind in making these statements. But I can say in the event of Omar al-Bashir’s surrender to the ICC, one certainly does not want to see a vacuum at the center of political power in Khartoum, and steps would need to be taken to make sure that no such power vacuum existed and that presidential authority could continue to be exercised by a successor to President al-Bashir,” Dicker said.
On Sunday, Sudan state media
quoted Salah Gosh, head of Sudan's National Security and Intelligence Service, warned
that foreigners could be targeted by radicals if the International Criminal
Court indicted President al-Bashir for alleged war crimes.
Dicker said the international community should not tolerate and threat of violence on the part of Sudanese officials.
“There can’t be any tolerance by the international community for any violence directed at innocent individuals be they Sudanese or foreign as a reprisal or retaliation for the decision to issue an arrest warrant against President al-Bashir. We are expecting members of the Security Council as well as the U.N. secretariat to convey that message privately and publicly to the Sudanese authority,” he said.