WORLDPOST
04/05/2009 05:12 am ET | Updated May 25, 2011

Bashir Rejects ICC Arrest Warrant: What Happens Next?

On March 4, the International Criminal Court issued a warrant for the arrest of Sudanese President Omar al-Bashir, accusing him of committing war crimes and crimes against humanity in the Darfur region, reported Africa News.

Bashir strongly rejected the warrant, calling the move a step toward colonizing his country during a rally where thousands gathered to show their support for the president, said Al Jazeera English.

Even the African Union, which decided last month to back Bashir, has called on the United Nations to halt the warrant, Africaasia reports.

The move would "give a chance for peace in Sudan," said the chairman of the bloc's Peace and Security Council, Bruno Zidouemba, after an emergency meeting in the Ethiopian capital.

But what happens now? Will Bashir be arrested, and if not, then what will happen to Sudan, especially now that 10 foreign aid groups have had their licenses revoked?

The BBC reports that the stakes could not be higher in Sudan and especially Darfur, and the future is uncertain.

On the one hand supporters of the global court will be hoping that the arrest warrant will be enough to persuade Sudan's politicians to hand the country's leader over.

Over the last few months rumours that a coup is on the cards have been circulating around Khartoum.

But insiders say that senior members of the National Congress Party have decided to stick with President Bashir - at least for the time being.

BBC also reports that many fear that if Bashir stays in office, the genocide in Darfur could escalate. Violence in the region has increased in the past few weeks, despite an agreement between the government and Justice and Equality Movement. Now, the JEM has promised to work with the ICC.

There is a fear among some analysts that the arrest warrant for President Bashir could possibly derail the Comprehensive Peace Agreement signed in 2005 and plunge South Sudan back into bloody conflict.

The Economist argues that the affects of a trial at the Hague for Bashir could be huge and widespread.

Other warrants were already out for Mr Bashir's "humanitarian affairs" minister and a leader of the government-backed Arab janjaweed militias, and more are likely. Yet the upheavals that will follow Mr Bashir's indictment could yet damage the court. Some African members had previously threatened to give up on the ICC if the Bashir case went ahead.

The aftershocks of the effort to bring Mr Bashir to trial will also be felt far beyond The Hague. The joint UN-AU peacekeeping operation in Darfur, called UNAMID and now (counting police and civilians) some 15,000 strong, had already come under attack from local rebels; related arrest warrants have been requested against three rebel commanders. Reprisals against UNAMID could now follow from government-backed forces.