CW 32/2021: Without time frame
Press Review 7 August 2021 to 13 August 2021

Sudan decides to hand over Omar al-Bashir to International Criminal Court

The interim government in Sudan decided last Wednesday to hand over former head of state Omar al-Bashir to the International Criminal Court (ICC) in The Hague. Foreign Minister Mariam al-Mahdi told the state news agency Suna that the Sudanese cabinet had decided to extradite not only al-Bashir but also all other wanted persons such as former Interior and Defence Minister Abdel-Rahim Muhammad Hussein and security chief Ahmed Haroun. The decision was made in Khartoum during the visit of Karim Khan, the new chief prosecutor of the ICC. Khan was in the country for the further investigation of the Darfur conflict. In the context of this conflict, the former head of state al-Bashir stands accused of genocide, war crimes and crimes against humanity, which is why there has been an arrest warrant against him at the ICC since 2009. In 2003, predominantly non-Arab rebels had started an uprising in the Darfur region to protest against the oppression of the majority Arab government. The government around al-Bashir put down these uprisings with air force attacks, among other things, and instigated systematic human rights violations by Janjaweed militias. According to the UN, 300,000 people were killed and 2.5 million displaced by 2006 alone. In April 2019, al-Bashir was overthrown in a military coup following mass protests, and in December of the same year a court sentenced him to two years in prison for corruption. Another trial is currently underway against him in Khartoum for his 1989 violent takeover. In 2020, Sudan’s transitional government first announced that it would hand over al-Bashir to the ICC, but it has so far failed to do so due to Sudan’s missing signature to the Rome statute. Last week, the Sudanese cabinet voted in favour of ratification, opening the way for extradition. However, a precise date for the actual handover has not yet been set.

 

Chad’s interim president calls for national dialogue

Mahamat Déby, Chad’s interim president, last Tuesday invited opposition groups to participate in a national dialogue on the country’s future. Thus, the head of the 15-member Military Transitional Council (CMT) is taking a new political course, after Mahamat Déby had repeatedly emphasised in earlier statements that the government would not negotiate with the armed rebels as a matter of principle. In a speech broadcast on state television on the occasion of Chad’s 61st anniversary of independence, Mahamat Déby called on the fighters of the Front for Change and Concord in Chad (FACT) to support the Transitional Council in restoring national unity. The 37-year-old has been at the helm of the country since last April. Before that, his father and long-term president Idriss Déby had been killed in battles with the FACT in northern Chad (DAS Press Review Week 16). At the request of the African Union (AU) and France, the transitional council had promised to hold democratic elections at the end of an 18-month transitional period, but there is currently no concrete timetable. The political opposition as well as parts of civil society have recently sharply criticised the Council because they fear a permanent takeover of power by the military junta. After seizing power, the Transitional Council not only dissolved parliament but also suspended the constitution. Against this background, hundreds of people took to the streets in the capital N’Djamena several times at the end of July to protest against the ruling military junta. The demonstrations were organised by the opposition Transformers party and several civil society groups and were largely peaceful. During a similar demonstration in April, several people were killed and about 700 demonstrators were arrested. Chad is a close ally, especially for France, in the fight against transnational terrorism in the Sahel region, because the well-trained Chadian troops are of immense importance for the G5 Sahel and the Multinational Joint Task Force (MNJTF).

 

In other news

The Olympic Games in Tokyo came to an end with the victory of Eliud Kipchoge in the marathon last Sunday. The Kenyan finished first after 42.195 kilometres and a time of 2:08:38 hours. The exceptional athlete, who was the first person ever to run the marathon distance in less than two hours as part of a record attempt in Vienna in 2019, thus made a decisive contribution to the successful performance of the Kenyan Olympic team in Tokyo. The athletes from Kenya won the most medals in a direct comparison of all African nations. Besides the Kenyans, South African swimmer Tatjana Schoenmaker impressed with her world record in the 200-metre breaststroke. In addition, triple jumper Hugues Fabrice Zango from Burkina Faso secured his country’s first ever Olympic medal.

 

Event Announcement

The 31st edition of the Africa Festival is taking place in Würzburg from 12-15 August. However, this year’s edition is unfortunately much smaller due to the pandemic situation. Only 6.000 visitors are expected instead of the usual 80.000. The Africa Festival has existed since 1989 and is the largest and oldest festival for African music and culture in Europe.

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