Who Knows What is in Store for Sudan?
The ICC Predicament has two faces in Sudan: one concerns the international community, the other for the Sudanese citizen. I will attempt to define, then look at its impact on the common people and governing elite. Of course, I do not have answers to these questions. I am looking for them. Nonetheless, these are layman’s notes that have to go on record.
For international justice:
1. Formal investigation is a pre-requisite for justice. Formal investigation is also practically difficult to conduct. This defines the ICC predicament, and as such, the formal process may contribute to renewed hostilities or intransigence of one party to the conflict.
2. The ICC has not been able to enforce international justice rulings to catch Harun and Kushayb for more than two years.
3. Whatever the ICC does to the first sitting President being indicted, Omer al-Beshir, the greatest challenge to the Hague Court still persists; that of conducting formal investigations and prosecutions in pursuit of justice with peace, particularly, in situations of ongoing conflict- as evidenced by Darfur – or where serious internal political instability is manifest.
4. So, is it the best option to put the whole country on “˜high-pressure zone’ by indicting the Head of State?
For the Sudanese Citizen:
In the circumstance, the Sudanese people are in dilemma: Why should a citizen of Sudan believe that his President is guilty of genocide, just because the ICC, so decided? Wouldn’t that same Sudanese citizen, who succumbs to ICC indictment, be saying – in effect – that the people of Darfur are guilty because they are getting killed by the same state that is supposed to protect them?
Implications for a country in limbo:
1. The Sudan has been terminally driven into a corner. Everybody is mixed-up as the days pass. This can be seen in the open trenches excavated by Sudan Armed Forces, as defense “˜barricades’ facing the capital city, a few kilometers from the famous River Nile. The “˜puzzled-eye’ also shows in the absolute silence of political party leaders, other than the members of the governing National Congress Party, in support of the President.
2. People in Khartoum who saw the trenches are not only amazed by the breadth, depth and expanse but also by the speed in which they have been constructed. “These “˜things’ have entrenched Khartoum, already”, say the cynics. Others, still, feel pity for the “˜brains’ that had to create them, in the first place. This latter category goes on asking, “They are really “˜thinking’, aren’t “˜they’? Couldn’t they hash-out some better defense options suitable for Century-21, some MIG29s and Sky-Hawks?” One person asked, “These trenches must have cost us a lot, haven’t they? What are they going to be used for, “˜after the event’? His companion responded, cynically, “Agricultural workers “˜for a new Gezira-Scheme or human-shields’, before-and-after “˜the event’?”
3. This reflects, in my view, the extent to which Al-Bashir and his close advisors have been alienated from the “˜common man’. They seem to have taken it upon themselves, to settle the ICC issue as statesmen, away from “˜the crowd’. In this context, they are not only insulated, politically, but also in the degree to which the common people seem to distance themselves from the perceived fate of the NCP/NIF as a whole. It also demonstrates, I am afraid, that future support on “˜doomsday’ may not turn out to be different from that given to the Mahdist Head of State (Khalifa Abdallahi), 110 years ago.
4. The regional supporters of the Sudanese President, Field Marshal Omar Al-Bashir, are already fatigued by the heavy clutch of the western media machine. The “˜public-relations’ support given to Al-Bashir by the African Union faded away, gradually, after the astonishing free-fall of Thabo Mbeki, the former president of South Africa. The support of the League of Arab States shied away after a quick visit by the Egyptian President, Hosni Mubarak, to Khartoum. Shortly after that visit, the Egyptian state minister for legal affairs announced that Sudan’s position is weak, in the face of the ICC. The verbal support pronounced by the Organization of the Islamic Conference ceased to be heard as it has not been followed by deeds.
5. In addition, the extent to which non-Western veto powers at the UNSC would back him up remains to be seen.