Photograph — Jesse B. Awalt

The Sudanese government and rebel groups in Darfur agreed on Tuesday that all those wanted by the International Criminal Court (ICC) should appear before the tribunal. In June 2019, the ICC retained the five suspectsAhmed Haroun, Ali Kushayb, Omar al-Bashir, Abdallah Banda and Abdel Rahim Mohammed Hussein – on their list for crimes against humanity.

Although Faisal Saleh, the country’s Information Minister who announced the decision, did not explicitly name al-Bashir, he stated that the decision applied to all five Sudanese suspects wanted by the ICC over Darfur war crimes.

Also commenting on the decision was the chief negotiator of the Darfur people in Juba, Nimri Mohamed Abd, who said that Darfur groups and Sudan’s government had agreed to “fully cooperate with the International Criminal Court,” and that the timing of the handover would be decided in final negotiations.

A statement by one of the members of Sudan’s sovereign council, Mohamed al-Hassan al-Taishi, states that the government and the rebel groups reached an agreement during a meeting in South Sudan’s capital Juba that included “the appearance of those who face arrest warrants before the International Criminal Court.”  He added that two sides agreed to create a Darfur special court to investigate and hear cases including those investigated by the ICC.

The alliance between the transitional government and the rebel groups indicates their interest in Sudan’s common good. This move could also signal warnings to other African leaders that no crime against humanity would be overlooked by international communities.

The Darfur conflict was a guerrilla war that took place in the Darfur region of Sudan from 2003 to 2010 to challenge the government’s racism against black Sudanese. During the conflict government forces and a militia group known as the Janjaweed militia attacked black Sudanese in the region. This made the Sudan Liberation Army and the Justice and Equality Movement carry an attack on the Sudanese government in response to the perceived oppression of black Sudanese by the majority Arab government. These actions have been described as genocide by a number of governments and human rights groups. However, Omar al-Bashir, Sudan’s president at the time, denied that his government had links to Janjaweed.

Last year, Sudan’s transitional government and a rebel group signed a preliminary peace deal, paving the way for eventual reconciliation. General Mohamed Hamdan Dagalo, the deputy chief of Sudan’s Sovereign Council and Malik Agar, head of one of the two factions of Sudan People’s Liberation Movement-North (SPLM-N) signed the truce. SPLM-N has been fighting the government in the Blue Nile and South Kordofan regions.

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