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Bashir’s magic number 68

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bashirwomanOn the face of it, Sudanese President Omar Hassan al-Bashir got the perfect election result.

His victory with 68 percent was not too high that it would spark concerns of fraud but high enough above the 50 percent needed for a win for him to be able fly in the face of the disapproving West.

Bashir is now the only elected sitting head of state wanted by the International Criminal Court for war crimes.    

But the path to victory was far from smooth.

Three weeks before what was promising to be an exciting electoral race, irregularities including a government printing press winning the contract to print ballot papers, sparked a wave of boycotts effectively ending any hope of a competitive presidential poll.

To observe or not to observe?

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SUDAN-ELECTIONS/This is likely to be the question hotly debated in the more self-aware international observer missions covering Sudan’s elections, due to start on Sunday and marred by a wave of boycotts and claims of fraud.

Sudan’s first multi-party polls in almost quarter of a century had promised to be fiercely contested until revelations of irregularities caused boycotts by several parties.

from Global News Journal:

Darfur: Is the war over or is the world losing interest?

A girl holds her sleeping brother in Zam Zam camp in Darfur, Sudan in June 2008. REUTERS/Louis CharbonneauIt's more than six years since mostly non-Arab rebels in Sudan's western Darfur region revolted after accusing Khartoum of neglecting their remote corner of Africa's biggest country. Khartoum's U.N. ambassador, Abdalmahmoud Abdalhaleem, declared in New York this week that the "war in Darfur is over."

But Luis Moreno-Ocampo, the chief prosecutor of the International Criminal Court (ICC) in The Hague, disagrees. Although levels of violence in Darfur have fallen, he told the Security Council that crimes "are continuing." He said those crimes include indiscriminate bombings of civilians, creation of inhumane conditions for displaced people in order to "exterminate" them, rapes and sexual violence, and the use of child soldiers.

The ICC has already issued arrest warrants for Sudanese President Omar Hassan al-Bashir, another government official and a former Janjaweed militia leader for war crimes in a government-led counter-insurgency campaign that drove more than 2 million from their homes. The United Nations says as many as 300,000 people have died since the conflict erupted in 2003, but Khartoum rejects that figure.

Is the new U.S. policy on Sudan the dawn of a new era of engagement with Khartoum?

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On Monday U.S. President Barack Obama’s administration announced its new Sudan policy after months of speculation and lobbying from those opposed to any positive overtures to Khartoum and those who said further isolating Sudan would derail years of peace efforts.

U.S.-Sudanese relations have seen many ups and down in recent years. U.S. sanctions were imposed in 1997 and the United States bombed a Sudanese pharmaceuticals factory in 1998. There was praise for a 2005 north-south peace deal ending more than two decades of civil war, but it was overshadowed by outrage over atrocities in the 2003 Darfur uprising where Washington accused Khartoum of genocide.

Is the International Criminal Court unfair to Africa?

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African countries often complain about getting a bad press. They say there’s much more to the continent than war and poverty and starvation. Then there’s the huge coverage given to the International Criminal Court and the fact that all four cases the body is now considering come from Africa.

But what’s strange about the complaints is that the world’s poorest continent is the most heavily represented in the ICC, with 30 member countries. In the March 2009 elections for ICC judges, 12 out of the 19 candidates were Africans nominated by African governments. And Fatou Bensouda, the court’s Deputy Prosecutor, is from Gambia.

Trouble ahead for Bashir?

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Sudanese President Omar Hassan al-Bashir has orchestrated a defiant response to international efforts to arrest him for war crimes in Darfur but this is seen as hiding vulnerabilities that could signal trouble ahead.

Bashir has been travelling in the region in defiance of the arrest warrant issued against him by the International Criminal Court for war crimes and crimes against humanity. His travels demonstrate the court’s inability to arrest him and have won support from Arab countries and at home. He has also closed down aid groups accused of helping the court and addressed a string of nationalistic rallies.

How long could it take for Sudan’s Bashir to be arrested?

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                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          Sudanese President Omar Hassan al-Bashir is being sought for war crimes in Darfur. Judges at the International Criminal Court in the Hague issued his arrest warrant last week, but if he is indeed to be arrested, long would it take.   It could be a while, if history is any guide.   Slobodan Milosevic, perhaps the most famous of sitting leaders indicted for war crimes while still in office, was indicted on May 24, 1999 and arrested nearly two years later, on April 1, 2001. Milosevic, who was being tried for war crimes during the messy breakup of Yugoslavia in the 1990s, died in 2006 before his trial ended.   Charles Taylor, the former president of Liberia being sought for war crimes and crimes against humanity, was indicted on March 3, 2003 and arrested three years later on March 29, 2006. Taylor is currently being tried in the Hague by the Special Court for Sierra Leone.   Milosevic and Taylor were still in power when they were indicted and arrest warrants issued, but they were both out of office by the time they were arrested. And with the 65 year-old Bashir still holding a firm grip on power in Sudan, it could take even longer for him to be arrested.   The ICC Chief Prosecutor, Luis Moreno-Ocampo, accepted as much, after Bashir’s arrest warrant was issued, saying it  could take two months or two years, but he would still face justice.   Bashir has made it clear that he has no intention of surrendering to the court, which he refuses to recognise.   If arrested, Bashir would most likely be held in the Scheveningen detention centre in the Hague, where Taylor is cbeing held along with other detainees being tried by the various international courts in the Hague. Most detainees say they are well-treated and comfortable in detention, but one complaint that seems to crop up is the Dutch food.

 

Will Bashir warrant worsen war?

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Sudan’s President Omar Hassan al-Bashir has seen off other challenges in almost 20 years in power and there is no sign that he is going to give in to the arrest warrant issued by the International Criminal Court for war crimes and crimes against humanity in Darfur.

Some supporters of the court’s move hope it will eventually persuade Sudan’s politicians to hand over their leader in a palace coup, end the festering conflict in Darfur and do more to repair relations with the West.

Putting Africa on trial?

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Look down the list of the cases the International Criminal Court is pursuing – Congo, Central African Republic, Darfur, Uganda – and it doesn’t take long to spot the connection.

Of the dozen arrest warrants the court has issued, all have been against African rebels or officials. On Monday, the court begins its first trial - of Thomas Lubanga, accused of recruiting child soldiers to wage a gruesome ethnic war in northeastern Congo. Earlier this month, former Congolese rebel leader Jean-Pierre Bemba was in court for a decision on whether to confirm charges of ordering mass rape to terrorise civilians in the Central African Republic.

How serious is Sudan’s Darfur ceasefire?

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Sudan’s President Omar Hassan al-Bashir was in a jubilant mood when he announced to crowds of supporters that he was declaring a ceasefire in Darfur.

From his body language, you might have thought he had already ended the crisis and achieved his goal of avoiding a possible indictment by the International Criminal Court for alleged war crimes in Darfur.

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