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The corruption trial of Omar al-Bashir, the former president of Sudan who was ousted in April after months of street protests, begins today in Khartoum. Bashir ruled Sudan with an iron fist for 30 years. His team of nearly 100 lawyers seems confident that he could be acquitted of corruption.
Pro-democracy activists hope Bashir will face additional charges for involvement in the deaths of protesters this year.
The high-profile trial comes as the power-sharing deal finally signed between Sudan’s military leaders and opposition over the weekend begins to take effect. The agreement follows weeks of violence and on-and-off negotiations. Many of those demanding a civilian government remain cautiously optimistic, Al Jazeera reports.
What’s in the deal? Under the terms of the transition deal, a military and civilian council will rule for around three years, until elections are held. The council is composed of 11 members, led by a military leader for the first 21 months and then a civilian leader for 18 months. The council includes Gen. Mohamed Hamdan Dagolo, known as Hemeti, the deputy head of Sudan’s military council and the commander of the Rapid Support Forces (RSF).
The agreement also calls for an independent investigation into the deadly crackdown on Khartoum’s main protest camp in June, attributed to the RSF.
Will there be more charges? Many activists are angry that Bashir is not facing more serious charges—for the crackdowns on protesters before he was ousted in April, and for crimes committed under his regime.
(The authorities have refused to turn Bashir over to the International Criminal Court, which has a warrant for his arrest for atrocities committed in Darfur.) Human rights lawyers say that the more serious charges—for Bashir and other members of his regime—will come later, under a civilian-led government.