Written by Staff Writer, CNN
After nearly three weeks of detention, the Sudanese prime minister was freed Tuesday at the eleventh hour of an International Criminal Court hearing. The long-expected outcome has raised concerns about his long-term future and popularity.
In comments to Sudanese state media broadcast on Tuesday, Salva Kiir, the country’s prime minister, said he was handed over to authorities in the U.S.
“I am safe and I am enjoying security,” he said. “I am going to make the most of it.”
In recent weeks, the Sudanese leadership has signed a peace deal with Sudan’s former rebel movement, known as the National Umma Party, which was broken up in the early 1990s.
After 17 years, the parties to the peace deal signed a document in Khartoum aimed at restoring trust and breaking political deadlock. However, major obstacles remain.
One of the key points remains the regular oil-producer’s status in international trade.
Salva Kiir speaks at the opening ceremony of the Khartoum Economic Forum in Sudan on November 17, 2018. Credit: Maha El Dahan/AP
The ICC case
In court documents filed at the Hague, the ICC said Salva Kiir was a member of the Sudanese National Congress Party, which was then accused of committing crimes in Darfur.
The ICC said Kiir joined Sudan’s ruling party in August 2004, reportedly at the invitation of Ali Osman Taha, who was the defense minister at the time. Taha was included on the ICC warrant of arrest for genocide in Darfur, at the time.
The charges related to Khartoum’s 2002-2003 attacks on its enemies in Darfur, according to the ICC. The attacks killed 20,000 people and wounded 70,000 others.
The ICC, founded in 2002, is a court of last resort whose indictments are initiated by the victims themselves.
Peace agreement with Nuba
In addition to charges of genocide and crimes against humanity, Kiir was accused of attacking civilians in two states in northern Sudan: South Kordofan and Blue Nile.
The peace deal, signed on November 14, aims to end two decades of conflict. The agreement will amend and expand existing laws to guarantee the rule of law, replace discriminatory practices by citizens against the Nuba people, and invest more in Darfur.
However, the agreement is not expected to include the economic interests of the government that dominate southern Sudan and focus heavily on oil.
According to the agreement, the government will call a national conference — similar to the 2015, federal constitution — to build a national consensus and identify broad national interests.
– Deyoung and Clough are CNN’s Amina Ahmed