Omar Hassan Ahmed Al-Bashir’s rise to political power began in 1989 when he, backed by military power (himself being a military man) and the support of Islamists, toppled the government.
Though he ended the decades-old war with the southern rebels in 2005, leading to the southern secession in 2011, it seems unlikely he will be remembered as a great peacemaker.
Darfur and ICC charges
In 2003, a conflict erupted in the west of Sudan, in a region that has since then become a symbol for genocide and human suffering: Darfur. There ethnic rebel groups accused the government of unfair treatment and took up arms.
Al-Bashir’s reaction included the arming of militias and, according to the ICC, subjecting thousands of civilians to “acts of murder, […] extermination, […] rape, […] forcible transfer”, and including the expulsion of hundreds of thousands from their homelands.
The arrest warrant issued by the International Criminal Court (ICC) in 2010 included charges of genocide, crimes against humanity, and war crimes.
Independent researchers estimate the number of deaths in Darfur totals around 300,000, with more than 2 million displaced persons. The Sudanese government however claims the death toll of the conflict is only around 10,000.
The majority of casualties are attributed to diseases caused by the dire humanitarian situation in Darfur, a situation only worsened by the government policy of keeping out international aid organisations and strictly limiting the international peacekeeping forces.
Ever since 2009, the ICC has called upon states and the UN Security Council to arrest Al-Bashir. He has, however, largely been travelling freely, especially in Africa and the Middle East, with Egypt being among his destinations several times.
Al-Bashir met the international community’s accusations with a blunt refusal, denying the charges and in turn accusing the court and the states supporting it of trying to impose their will upon the people of Sudan.