What’s Bashir dancing about after the ICC move?

Category: Writing aboard the Kenya Airways: A story on coming to Rwanda for the first time
Published on Saturday, 07 March 2009 07:08
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Manyok Biar is a regular contributor for The New Sudan Vision
Texas, USA - President Omar al-Bashir of Sudan “was seen smiling, dancing and speaking to a huge crowd of supporters Thursday, a day after a warrant was issued for his arrest on war crimes charges” (CNN, March 5, 2009). This is a rather unusual reaction from the indicted President. But there are messages that President Bashir’s reaction communicates to both Sudanese and international community.


For the international community, President Bashir is saying that the arrest warrant announced against him by the International Criminal Court (ICC) does not affect him. This means that if there are some countries in the international community that think they are intimidating Bashir, then they should get the message that Bashir is not bothered by their action.


Another message that President Bashir’s defiance communicates is to the Arab world. He wants to show the Arab world that he is a man who does not fear the West. That was the reason why his dancing was followed by his condemnation of the United State of America. He might also be showing himself as a strong man of Africa. That was why he called the arrest warrant against him neocolonialism.


For Sudanese, Bashir wants us to know that he is still in control. According to CNN, “The streets of the capital, Khartoum, were filled with people who raised their hands in the air to cheer President Omar al-Bashir, who raised both fists defiantly in the air.” These people are the ones who will vote for Bashir in the upcoming elections. President Bashir knows that if he shows weakness to his supporters, they might not vote for him in the upcoming elections, which would be his real downfall.


Another message is for the people of Darfur. President Bashir is telling the people of Darfur that he has power to send Non-Governmental Organizations from the West away from Sudan and starve the Darfuris to death. There is a connection between President Bashir’s defiance dance and the dismissal of NGOs from Sudan as CNN puts it: “The display of defiance came as international aid agencies were being ordered to leave the country in retaliation for the move by the International Criminal Court over six years of bloodshed in the country's Darfur region.”


Therefore, President Bashir’s message to the people of Darfur is for them to choose between him and the West.


Another message that President Bashir’s defiance communicates to the people of Darfur is that he can now crash the Darfuris militarily and nobody can help them. That was the reason why “Government air and ground forces conducted what the United Nations called a ‘show of force’ in parts of Darfur, where the situation was ‘calm but unpredictable’” (CNN, March 5, 2009).


There are other hidden messages that the defiance dance of President Bashir communicates to Sudanese and international community. President Bashir is telling the world that he is now released from the burden of international community’s Human Rights obligation. He can now act as he wants because he has nothing to lose since he is already indicted as criminal. This is the reason why he expelled the NGOs that are helping starving people in Darfur.


President Bashir might be happy to revert back to Islamic extremism because they find it easy to do so as Saleh Gosh, the head of Sudan’s National Security and Intelligence Service told audience celebrating his promotion to a Field Marshal on February 22, 2009 in Khartoum. Field Marshal Gosh admitted that they in the Government of Sudan were Islamic extremists before they became moderate and civilized believing in peace and life for everyone. Gosh threatened, “Anyone who attempts to put his hands to execute [ICC] plans we will cut his hands, head and parts because it is a non-negotiable issue” (Sudan Tribune, February 22, 2009).


May be President Bashir danced because he had identified the NGOs and other unidentified groups as people that he can cut their hands and heads off because of their alleged collaboration with ICC.

Even though President Bashir is communicating these messages to both Sudanese and international community, the fact of the matter is that he has now understood that he is not above the law. Nobody believes that President Bashir is soon going to be arrested. But the reality is that President Bashir will now live a prisoner in his own country. This arrest warrant against the sitting president is a clear message to all dictators who oppress their own people.


President Bashir is free to dance but he is now not free to travel outside Sudan, at least not to more than hundred countries that are members of ICC.


The writer of this article is a Graduate Student at Abilene Christian University, Texas, USA. He can be reached at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.