The military officials who ousted Sudan’s long-serving President Omar al-Bashir announced Friday that they would not extradite him despite the leader being wanted for crimes against humanity by the International Criminal Court.
Col. Gen. Omar Zein Abedeen, who’s part of the new military council running the country after Bashir’s ouster on Thursday, said the leader would instead face trial at home.
The International Criminal Court wants Bashir to face charges of war crimes, crimes against humanity, and genocide for his campaign against insurgents in the Darfur region between 2003 and 2008.
In a bid to assuage fears that Bashir’s removal could lead to permanent military rule, Abedeen told protestors that the president’s removal was not a military coup and that the council had “no ambition to hold the reins of power.”
Abedeen added that the council would be willing to step down within a month if a government could be formed.
“You, the people, will provide the solutions for all economic and political issues,” Abedeen said. “We have come with no ideology. We have come here to maintain order and security to provide the opportunity for the people of Sudan to achieve the change they aspire to.”
The military leader said the council would remain in place for a maximum of two years with the primary goal of maintaining public order: “We will have zero tolerance for any misdeed in any corner of the country.”
But hours earlier, tens of thousands of protestors had openly defied a nighttime curfew put in place by the council to demonstrate outside the military headquarters in the capital Khartoum.
The Sudanese Professionals' Association (SPA) led the months-long protests to oust Bashir, and on Thursday the group said that the new military council was a “continuation of the same regime.”
“Stay put and guard your revolution," the SPA tweeted. “To comply with the curfew is to recognize the clone rescue government.”
Among the major concerns for the protestors is the presence of Defence Minister Awad Ibn Auf, who heads the new council. He was the head of military intelligence during the Darfur conflict, and in 2007, the U.S. imposed sanctions on him for his alleged support of militia blamed for atrocities there.
At least 35 people have been killed in clashes between security forces and the demonstrators since last Saturday.
Cover image: Sudan's President Omar al-Bashir speaks at the Presidential Palace, Friday, Feb. 22, 2019, in Khartoum, Sudan. Sudan's President has declared a state of emergency on Friday, for a year and disbanded the government amid deadly protests. (AP Photo/Mohamed Abuamrain)