Bashir Was Ready to Step Down Before the Arrest Warrant? Really?
That’s what Rob Crilly claims in an editorial today in the Telegraph:
Before he was indicted, Bashir told regional leaders and his confidantes that he was ready to step down: after 20 years in office, he was ready for a holiday, and retirement to a smart new villa in the north of Khartoum. Now, fearing arrest by a new regime, he has promised his inner circle that he will fight on.
I have never heard this claim before, and Crilly provides no support for it. I’m skeptical, particularly given that Crilly is a leading proponent of the “blame the ICC and the NGOs, not Bashir” movement. He describes Bashir in the article, for example, as a “pragmatist” who is not “the monster of popular imagination.” (Apparently, he is just misunderstood by all those mean prosecutors and activists.) But I’m willing to be convinced.
Anybody out there know whether Crilly’s claim is accurate?
UPDATE: An intrepid reader contacted Crilly, who replied, “He said it on at least three different occasions. Sources rock solid.” Crilly did not identify the sources, and I remain skeptical. Even if Bashir said it, though, it is difficult to believe that he meant it. If Bashir had communicated a genuine willingness to step down to the ICC, I think it’s safe to say that the OTP would have been willing to not bring charges against him.
UPDATE 2: Crilly has a short blog post on Bashir’s alleged statement here. He says he has been sitting on the information for a while — why, I don’t know.