24 March, 2009
[Sarah Washburne is a doctoral student at the University of Exeter. She contributed this article from Khartoum.]
For another view on the ICC decision, see Khalid Mustafa Medani, ‘Wanted: Omar al-Bashir — and Peace in Sudan,’ Middle East Report Online, March 5, 2009.
On the day after the International Criminal Court (ICC) issued an arrest warrant for Sudanese President Omar al-Bashir, the wanted man addressed a pre-planned rally of thousands in front of the presidential palace in Khartoum. Bashir was defiant, denouncing the warrant as ‘neo-colonialism,’ and praising his supporters in Martyrs’ Square as ‘grandsons of the mujahideen,’ a reference to the participants in the Mahdiyya uprising against Anglo-Egyptian rule in 1885. The atmosphere was almost one of jubilation; one might have mistaken the crowds for soccer fans celebrating a win. As Bashir condemned the ICC and the West from the microphone, the protesters waved the Sudanese flag and held aloft pictures of Bashir, as well as posters depicting the face of Luis Moreno Ocampo, the ICC prosecutor, superimposed upon the body of a pig. There were sporadic outbreaks of drumming, dancing and singing.