Along the stretch of highway leading to the international airport in Khartoum, there are illuminated signs of Sudan’s President Omar el-Bashir alternating with those of Luis Moreno-Ocampo, the prosecutor of the International Criminal Court who has indicted him. It is quite a jarring sight, and a jarring statement as the country waits to see if the ICC will issue an arrest warrant for its leader, the first for a sitting head of state, rumored to be due out tomorrow. It marks a turbulent time in a turbulent country, and illustrates how shaken the government is .
There are a number of possible outcomes if an arrest warrant is issued. Bashir has already been indicted on ten counts of war crimes, crimes against humanity, and genocide, although it is speculated that the last might be dropped. One is that a state of emergency could be declared and that a defiant government, that does not recognize the jurisdiction of the ICC, would strengthen its grip on power. Already people are being arrested. Sudanese men and women who work for NGOs have been beaten. The government believes they are providing evidence against Bashir. A nervousness invades the streets, but it’s not something you can sense as a foreigner.
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Originally published at The Huffington Post on the 3rd of April, 2009.