It's hard to avoid the impression that the teddy-bear imbroglio in Sudan was a piece of elaborate theater designed to give Sudanese president Omar al-Bashir a chance to magnanimously pardon the offender and thereby chalk up some brownie points with the West. Just scanning the headlines, one would have the impression that Bashir has courageously faced down the mob that was baying for the hapless schoolteacher's blood. Bashir's spokesperson is certainly cultivating that storyline:
There was a political risk in this decision. Although the pardon is a presidential prerogative, because of the rising feeling and tensions that have been generated many Sudanese will see it as unfair to them and that it might encourage others to do the same.The president considered the intentions behind the actions when he made this decision [to pardon].
The wise moderate in the midst of extremists—it's not a bad image to have as frustration grows over delays on Darfur peacekeeping.
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