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Mr. Bashir wants a hug

The ICC¹s arrest warrant has forced Sudan¹s president to show more flexibility

Omar al-Bashir
Not so much to laugh about, recently (via openDemocracy, Flickr)

In March, the International Criminal Court (ICC) at The Hague filed an arrest warrant for Sudan¹s president Omar al-Bashir. Back then, a lot of observers wondered whether this step would undermine the attempts to arrange peace in Darfur.

Two months later, it looks like it has brought the al-Bashir-government under pressure to improve its reputation. As The Economist currently reported, there are hopeful signs that diplomacy may get to work again: As it was unsuccessful convincing the UN security council to overturn the ICC, al-Bashir-government had to return to peace negotiations about Darfur in Doha. It also signaled willingness to let aid agencies return into the country, after they had been expelled because the warrant was issued. And, after all, elections are promised to be held in 2010. Mr. Bashir himself gave an interview to the BBC, denying any war crimes. According to the UN, the Darfur conflict has killed up to 300,000 people, displacing 2.5 million.

After years of bloody conflict and a lot of diplomatic tricks by Khartoum, it may take another year or so until any breakthrough can be reached. But with China getting cooler while the US signaling willingness to aim at a diplomatic solution, there is reason for shy optimism Mr. Bashir has to open up to avoid losing everything. After all, the situation on the ground has gotten better in Darfur: In April, only 22 people have been killed, according to UN figures.

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