George Clooney and his The Sentry co-founder John Prendergast are celebrating after learning Sudanese leader President Omar al-Bashir has been overthrown and is now facing justice for war crimes against his people.
His successor, General Ahmed Awad Ibn Auf, broke the news on Thursday (11Apr19), revealing the 75 year old’s three-decade rule had ended with his arrest following months protest.
In a TV address Ibn Auf, who is also Sudan’s defence minister, announced a military council would run the country for two years.
The power switch wasn’t exactly what activists wanted, and they have vowed to continue protesting, but Clooney, who has been monitoring al-Bashir’s actions for over a decade, insists it’s a step in the right direction, and he welcomes a war crimes trial.
“The people of Sudan have been waiting for this day for a long time, but it is only a tentative first step towards real change,” a joint statement from Clooney and Prendergast reads. “The general who has taken over in this palace coup, Awad Ibn Ouf, has been sanctioned by the United States for orchestrating war crimes in Darfur, just as the just-deposed Omar al-Bashir has been.
“Bashir is also wanted for genocide and war crimes perpetrated in Darfur, and should be extradited and tried in The Hague for those crimes. However, removing the leader of a violent, corrupt system without dismantling that system is inadequate. The next steps are crucial. The international community must provide all possible support to ensure that the transition is a negotiated and inclusive one, and that the next president of Sudan reflects the will of its people.”
Clooney and Prendergast’s The Sentry initiative was launched as an investigative team building cases against the war criminals “responsible for Africa’s deadliest conflicts” and “the corrupt transnational networks that profit from them”.
Under President Omar al-Bashir’s regime, a civil war in the Sudan claimed more than 300,000 lives, according to the United Nations.
In 2009, he was indicted for alleged war crimes and crimes against humanity in Darfur, while Ibn Auf himself was sanctioned by the United States for supporting and managing militias accused of carrying out genocide in the conflict.