Home | Comment & Analysis    Sunday 28 September 2008

Sudan’s al-Bashir and NCP: Watch Ocambo is coming


By Steve Paterno

September 27, 2008 — Against all odds, the National Congress Party (NCP) and its President Omar al-Bashir are consistently reminded that their time is running out as they embark on political and diplomatic defenses to deter a pending international arrest warrant about to be handed down against al-Bashir. The three-judge panel of International Criminal Court (ICC) who will decide on al-Bashir’s fate are already back to work from their long summer vocation. They are already deliberating on the case and will soon hand their verdict, which in all likelihood, will rule in favor of immediate arrest of al-Bashir.

The NCP last chance lays on the UN General Assembly sessions, currently held in New York. In their bid, the NCP assembled what it regards as its best team and dispatched them to New York with a daunting task to lobby for invocation of article 16 of ICC, which will result in deference of potential arrest of al-Bashir for another year. However, a close examination of the members of the NCP team and the process in which the members are selected can alone reveal a clear crack; leave alone the daunting task placed ahead of this team.

On the onset, the selection of NCP team shows the growing internal oppositions toward the NCP and against President al-Bashir. All along, NCP falsely portrays that it has managed to rally internal sympathy for al-Bashir. The first move was to issue a Presidential decree/law, appointing Salva Kiir, the chairman of Sudan People Liberation Movement/Army (SPLM/A), to head the crisis committee to thwart al-Bashir’s potential arrest. But before long, Deng Alor, a prominent SPLM/A official and Minister for Foreign Affairs who is also a member of the crisis committee, bailed out himself in an effort to save SPLM/A from embarrassment. Alor goes on to call on NCP to “cooperate with the ICC.” Since then, Alor had joined the prominent voices, warning the NCP that they have little time left to face justice.

Reacting to Alor’s stand on the issue, the NCP dropped him from being the head of the team to be dispatched to New York. Traditionally, the team is usually headed by a Foreign Minister and Alor was slotted to head the delegation; but he was dropped out in the last minute. However, as a mockery, the NCP designated Bona Malwal, a South Sudanese like Alor, but an apologist of al-Bashir to be a de facto foreign minister among the members of the team. Alor is retained in the team without any official capacity. Nonetheless, Alor who has a family in the US, does not seem to have a problem to get his travel to America paid for by Khartoum—an opportunity in disguise.

Of all the people, the NCP found no one but Ali Osman Taha, Khartoum’s vice president and an ideologue of NCP to head the team to New York. Today the discussions around Washington and New York change from the potential arrest of al-Bashir to that of Taha. There has already been wide consensus around the notion that the NCP top officials including Taha are next targets of ICC indictments. This leads many to believe that the indictments of these officials may be sealed to nap the suspects like in the case of the Congolese Jean-Pierre Bemba Gombo, who under a sealed indictment was arrested in Belgium while on a visit. Many concluded that those of Taha who are on their visit to New York are likely awaiting the same fate as Gombo did.

According to the documents released to the public by ICC Prosecutor Luis Moreno Ocampo, Taha is found to have played instrumental role in mobilizing Janjaweed forces against the innocent Darfur civilians. In one of the instants, Taha is alleged to have declared that the NCP “are willing to supply weapons, ammunition, camels, salary and horses,” and even treat the wounded in this war of genocide. Taha is alleged to have added, “please also accept greetings from the President Omer Al Bashir.” And he then went on to conclude, “I don’t want one single village of Zurgas in Darfur. All the Zurga lands are yours.” These leave no doubt that Taha is an accomplice to the crimes al-Bashir is charged with, which include crimes against humanity, war crimes and genocide. Taha may still be walking around in one piece, but for how long.

If the dispatched NCP team to New York is not diminished yet on the infirmity of its composition and the growing internal oppositions that it has so far revealed, then the presence of the team can only be matched and measured with the thunderous touchdown of ICC Prosecutor Luis Moreno Ocampo to New York. Ocampo came to New York for the opposite reason that NCP team came, which is to assure the arrest of President Omar al-Bashir. Ocampo mocked the UN Security Council that it will only make its role illegitimate if it so stupidly decides to invoke article 16 of ICC to defer the arrest warrant of al-Bashir. Ocampo reminded them that after all it was they, the UN Security Council members who in the first place referred the case of al-Bashir to ICC. Thus far, the call by some UN Security Council members to defer al-Bashir arrest warrant faded away; seemly dying a natural death. One firm member, the US even assured that it will use it powers to veto any attempt to defer al-Bashir’s arrest warrant. To the UN General Assembly members, Ocampo says that if they think he is going to drop the case against al-Bashir, then they are just dreaming. Ocampo went on to assure the human rights activists that they don’t have to worry as he has more than enough evidences to pursue and convict al-Bashir.

Ocampo will fly back to Europe victorious. If anything, Ocampo had well understood the role of politics in this process and mastered it so well that he can secure the indictment and the arrest of al-Bashir through both the political process, which he has just done and the legal process, where he is the strongest. He is already called to appear this week in front of ICC three-judge panel so that he can clarify things in his application of arrest warrant against al-Bashir. This is a sign that the verdict is too close to call, and that al-Bashir is clearly running out of time.

It is worth mentioning that Ocampo is elevated into the most feared name in Khartoum, beating that of another name of a person who died not long time ago, Dr. John Garang. If the ill practice of NCP that nowadays results into the entire country crumpling down does not bring about the demise of NCP, then the NCP should watch out; Ocampo is coming!

Steve Paterno is the author of The Rev. Fr. Saturnino Lohure, A Romain Catholic Priest Turned Rebel. He can be reached at stevepaterno@yahoo.com

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  • 29 September 2008 07:50, by Moe Montana

    Watch Ocambo is comming! I think the title of this article is indeed amusing! I believe Ismael al Basha son of the king of egypt was once coming, he’s now under sudanese soil. I also believe the great general gordon of the British Empire was once comming where is he now? Under the soil of the khartoum! The logical question one has to ask is not if he’s comming, its if he’s leaving with a pulsating body!

    PS I like the article steve!

    repondre message

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