Sudan ready to work with ICC on war crimes, says prime minister

Abdalla Hamdok has confirmed the government will allow suspects to face trial, including ousted president Omar Al Bashir

FILE PHOTO: Sudan's former president Omar Hassan al-Bashir sits inside a cage at the courthouse where he is facing corruption charges, in Khartoum, Sudan September 28, 2019. REUTERS/Mohamed Nureldin Abdallah/File Photo

Sudan is ready to co-operate with the International Criminal Court to allow those accused of war crimes, including former president Omar Al Bashir, to appear at the tribunal, Prime Minister Abdalla Hamdok said.

Al Bashir, who has been in jail in Khartoum since he was removed amid mass protests last year, is wanted by the ICC for alleged war crimes, genocide and crimes against humanity in Darfur in a conflict that killed an estimated 300,000 people.

The government reached a deal with rebel groups in February under which all five Sudanese ICC suspects should appear before the court, but Mr Hamdok had not publicly affirmed Sudan's position.

"I reiterate that the government is fully prepared to co-operate with the ICC to facilitate access to those accused of war crimes and crimes against humanity," Mr Hamdok said in a televised address on the anniversary of his appointment.

Sudan's transitional government, a three-year joint civilian-military arrangement led by Mr Hamdok, said it was close to a peace deal with some rebel groups active in Darfur.

Mr Hamdok also said that Sudan had come a long way towards being removed from the US list of state sponsors of terrorism.

The issue of war crimes trials has been central to Khartoum's efforts to sign peace deals to end the Darfur and other insurgencies and free resources from defence to pay for reforms.

Last week, Khartoum signed a provisional agreement with a wing of the Sudan People’s Liberation Movement-North to end their involvement and integrate fighters into the military.

The movement is based in South Kordofan's Nuba Mountains and Blue Nile State.

Monday's provisional peace deal set out security arrangements between Khartoum and the group, including a ban on the recruitment of child soldiers and disarmament of fighters.

Tutkew Gatluak, the talks' chief mediator and an adviser to South Sudanese President Salva Kiir, said last week a comprehensive agreement between the Khartoum government and four rebel groups would be signed on August 28.

But a rival faction led by Abdelaziz Al Hilu withdrew from the talks accusing a member of the country’s sovereign council of crimes against the people of Sudan.

There were intense communications with the US administration about removing Sudan from the terrorism list, and significant progress was expected in the coming weeks, a senior government source told Reuters on Sunday.

Washington added Sudan to the list in 1993 over allegations that Al Bashir's government was supporting terrorist groups at the time.

The designation makes Sudan technically ineligible for debt relief and financing from the International Monetary Fund and World Bank.

The US Congress would need to approve Sudan's removal from the list.