ICC looms over Sudan elections
President Omar Hasan al- Bashir, one of the International Criminal Court’s most wanted alleged war criminals, is the winner of last week’s first open elections held in Sudan in over two decades.
Few people in Sudan dare to openly discuss the ICC’s arrest warrant charging Bashir with war crimes and crimes against humanity in Darfur. Nevertheless, the ICC remained a looming shadow throughout the electoral process, which in itself was riddled with fraud accusations.
Bashir came to power in a military coup in 1989, and has ruled the country ever since. In 2003 rebels took up arms in Darfur, accusing the government of neglecting the remote region. Khartoum’s harsh handling of the revolt resulted in a humanitarian crisis which the United Nations estimates claimed 300,000 lives.
President Bashir has repeatedly dismissed the ICC’s allegations, dubbing it as a Western conspiracy.
Most opposition parties boycotted the elections before voting started, citing irregularities and saying that the election outcome would be irrelevant. The US this week described the elections as neither free nor fair.
In polling centres and other political venues in the capital of Khartoum last week, supporters of the ruling National Congress Party were the only ones who would mention the issue of the ICC warrant.