Sudan: Germany Calls for Restraint From 'All Sides' After Coup

Germany is supporting the Sudanese in the hope of free elections and has put the crisis on the UN Security Council's agenda. Berlin insists that ousted President Omar al-Bashir face trial for war crimes in The Hague.

In a government press conference, a spokesman for German Foreign Ministry remained cautious as he read an official statement on the fast-changing and unclear situation in Sudan.

What is certain is that in the early hours of April 11, the military in the capital Khartoum took control of state television; in the afternoon, they broadcast a declaration on the political future of Sudan and informed the nation that longtime President Omar al-Bashir had been deposed.

Nevertheless, many people took to the streets in Khartoum on Friday night to continue demonstrating for a free, democratic society led by a civilian government.

Germany wants peaceful solution

With diplomatic caution, Foreign Ministry spokesman Christopher Burger called on "all sides to exercise restraint because a peaceful solution to the crisis is needed. And one that lives up to the Sudanese people's wish for change."

Burger went on to report that Germany, which this month holds the presidency of the UN Security Council, has put the Sudan crisis on the UN agenda in coordination with its European partners and the US.

As of Thursday, the Foreign Ministry's official assessment of the situation in the East African country had been updated on its website: All non-essential travel to Sudan should be avoided, and airports and borders are currently closed. Demonstrations are likely to continue and "further violent riots, especially in the capital Khartoum, cannot be ruled out," the ministry wrote.

Berlin demands al-Bashir face The Hague

In the meantime, there have been reports from Khartoum that the new rulers are not intending to extradite the ousted president to the International Criminal Court (ICC) in The Hague.

"There is a great deal of uncertainty as to the status and whereabouts of Mr. Bashir," ministry spokesman Burger said. But Germany's position remains clear: "It is without question that the arrest warrants [for al-Bashir] issued by the ICC for alleged crimes against humanity, war crimes and genocide in Darfur remain in force."

The 75-year-old Bashir is accused of having used government troops and militias to brutally crack down on minority ethnic groups in the Darfur in Western Sudan in 2003. It is estimated that 300,000 people lost their lives in the conflict.

Sudan's new military leadership announced that al-Bashir would be "brought to justice" in Sudan.

Civil war must be avoided

German politicians have also reiterated the Foreign Ministry's call that al-Bashir be brought before the court in The Hague.

Gabi Weber, a development policy spokeswoman for the center-left Social Democratic Party (SPD) in the German parliament, supports sending al-Bashir to the ICC but warned that, "Everything must be done to avert the threat of civil war" in Sudan.

Weber told DW that this was due to the regime's many different groups and their conflicting interests. "These [interests] must be peacefully balanced if political change is to succeed," Weber said. "The international community and the new government have a responsibility to continue providing humanitarian aid to Sudan's 3.5 million refugees."

Stefan Liebich, a parliamentary representative from the socialist Left Party, welcomed the continued demonstrations in Sudan for democracy and said the country must now take steps towards free elections.

"People will not be satisfied simply by the fall of the dictator," Liebich said. "At the end of the transition process, there should be free and fair elections, in which the Sudanese can decide which government they want for their country."

However, on Friday, Sudan's trade union movement, a driving force behind the street protests, declared that it did not trust the statements of the military leadership that power would soon be handed over to a civilian government.

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