KHARTOUM - An influential opposition leader yesterday called on Sudanâ€™s president to hand himself over to the International Criminal Court, saying he should take responsibility for war crimes in Darfur.
The call from Islamist leader Hassan al-Turabi was the first significant show of dissent from within Sudanâ€™s political system over possible war crimes charges against President Omar Hassan al-Bashir. Politicians have previously been united in opposing them.
The global courtâ€™s chief prosecutor asked judges in July to issue an arrest warrant against Bashir, accusing him of genocide and other war crimes. The judges are expected to decide within weeks whether Bashir has a case to answer.
Turabi told reporters Bashir should surrender himself to save Sudan from sanctions and political turmoil that would follow if carried on ruling as a wanted man.
â€œThere is no judicial justice in this country... As far as we are concerned, there is no access to justice except through the international court,â€ Turabi said in the Khartoum headquarters of his opposition Popular Congress Party.
â€œIt is up to the government to hand him over or for him personally to go for the sake of his country, to protect his country against any further sanctions against the government.â€
Turabi, once close to al-Qaeda leader Osama bin Laden, has been a central figure for decades and repeatedly detained and imprisoned. He was the spiritual mentor behind Bashirâ€™s government when it took power in a 1989 coup, but the men later fell out.
Turabi said Sudanâ€™s many insurgent groups would step up attacks and destabilise the country if Bashir stayed in power without clearing his name.
Bashir and leading members of his dominant National Congress Party have repeatedly said they will not deal with the global court, dismissing it as part of a Western conspiracy.
Most Sudanese opposition parties publicly rallied round Bashir after the ICCâ€™s chief prosecutor, Luis Moreno-Ocampo, accused the president of orchestrating genocide and other crimes in Darfur.
Bashir urged to surrender to court