Sudan signals intent to hand over ex-officials for Darfur war crimes

International Criminal Court wants to try suspects on charges arising from conflict that claimed 300,000 lives

Sudan's ex-president Omar al-Bashir appears in court in the capital Khartoum on August 31, 2019 to face charges of illegal acquisition and use of foreign funds. - Authorities "seized 6.9 million euros, $351,770 and 5.7 million Sudanese pounds at (Bashir's) home which he acquired and used illegally," said judge Al-Sadiq Abdelrahman. (Photo by Ebrahim HAMID / AFP)
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Sudan says it will hand over former officials wanted by the International Criminal Court on war crimes charges stemming from the Darfur conflict.

Khartoum has not yet identified the individuals concerned but its comments are a signal that the country's transitional government intends to co-operate with the ICC.

The pledge was made on Saturday by Federal Affairs Minister Buthaina Dinar.

Late last year, during her first official visit to Sudan, ICC prosecutor Fatou Bensouda told reporters that options for prosecuting the suspects were being discussed with the Sudanese authorities.

Following Ms Besouda's visit, Sudanese Prime Minister Abdalla Hamdok said his government was committed to achieving justice.

During her second visit to Sudan earlier this month, Ms Besouda urged Sudan's leaders to surrender all those wanted for war crimes committed in the western region of Darfur, including former president Omar Al Bashir.

Ms Bensouda asked that Sudan hand over Ahmed Haroun, one of several former regime figures charged by the ICC in connection with the events in Darfur.

Al Bashir, who was overthrown in 2019 and later jailed for corruption, is wanted by The Hague-based court on charges related to the conflict in Darfur.

Ms Bensouda said that victims of war crimes and genocide in Darfur want to them brought to justice.

“It is clear that the victims of these crimes also want him [to face] the ICC ... In any discussion that is going to take place, that issue cannot be disregarded," she said.

The Darfur conflict started in 2003 when ethnic minority rebels took up arms, accusing Khartoum of political and economic marginalisation of their vast region.

The UN estimates that 300,000 people died and 2.5 million were displaced.

Also on Sunday, US Secretary of State Antony Blinken and Mr Hamdok discussed "progress in achieving peace and implementing political, security, and economic reform" by phone, US State Department spokesperson Ned Price said.

"They also discussed regional stability, implementing Sudan’s peace agreements, and Sudan’s commitment to normalising relations with Israel," he added.

Sudan announced it would normalise ties with Israel in October 2020, shortly after the UAE and Bahrain arranged similar deals.