London, Asharq Al-Awsat- Dr. Khalil Ibrahim, leader of the rebel Justice and Equality Movement group in Darfur, has declared that his movement is politically and militarily willing to confront the threats of Sudanese President Omar al-Bashir whose arrest is expected to be demanded by the International Criminal Court [ICC] today.
Ibrahim urged the Sudanese people to arrest Al-Bashir and bring him before the ICC in The Hague. His statement came only days after signing an agreement with Khartoum in Doha. He said the regime in Khartoum would lose its legitimacy if it refused to hand over its president.
Speaking to Asharq al-Awsat by telephone from somewhere in Darfur, Ibrahim said his movement was taking seriously the threats of Maj-Gen Salah Abdullah, the head of the Sudanese security and intelligence apparatus, last week that the security forces would cut off the hands and limbs of anyone who cooperated and supported the ICC. He said: “We are ready militarily and politically to confront all these threats to protect the citizens and their possessions in Khartoum, Darfur, and anywhere in Sudan because it is a historic responsibility for the movement.” He added that Khartoum would be unable to act against the international community and refuse to extradite Al-Bashir to The Hague.
He downplayed the announcement by Musa Hilal, the adviser at the federal government ministry, that he could mobilize 30,000 fighters from his Arab tribes to protect Al-Bashir. He pointed out that his morale was high among his forces and people as they wait for the ICC’s decision and said his movement has 1,500 witnesses of the crimes committed in Darfur Province. He added: “We are confident of the ICC’s decision against Al-Bashir and the accusations against him will stick. We are waiting for that decision because it will be a precedent in the history of the world.” He considered the president’s arrest a historic opportunity for bringing about the change and peaceful transition to democracy, peace and equality and said: “Al-Bashir has only one chance and it is surrender voluntarily to the ICC. He will be arrested and be tried sooner or later and the people should not be dragged behind the regime’s acts of bravado.”
The International Criminal Court will announce its decision today at a 1300 GMT press conference in The Hague
Al-Bashir could become the first sitting head of state to be hauled before the tribunal since it began work in 2002.