SUDAN WATCH: More cat & mouse games: Britain says Sudan news agency interview with FM a hoax

Friday, November 21, 2008

More cat & mouse games: Britain says Sudan news agency interview with FM a hoax

Here's a fishy story from Sudan Tribune today. See related stories here below.

Britain says Sudan news agency interview with FM a hoax:
November 20, 2008 (KHARTOUM) - An interview with published by Sudan official news agency (SUNA) with British Foreign Secretary David Miliband yesterday is fabricated, according to a statement by the British embassy in Khartoum.

United Kingdom

“The statements that SUNA news agency attributed to the Foreign Secretary David Miliband on November 19 are completely inaccurate” the embassy spokesperson said in a statement.

“The Foreign Secretary did not give any interview to SUNA. Nor did he speak about Sudan in the terms described during his recent visit to Damascus” the spokesperson added.

SUNA’s reporter in Damascus quoted Miliband as saying in an interview that London and Paris are working together to introduce a UN Security Council (UNSC) resolution deferring International Criminal Court (ICC) indictment of Sudanese president Omer Hassan Al-Bashir.

“The UK supports the international efforts undertaken in the UNSC aiming to suspend a decision by the International Criminal Court (ICC) to Sudanese president Omer Hassan Al-Bashir for another year” Sudan’s state agency quoted Miliband.

“We realize that these international measures will not solve the crisis but will complicate it even further and may be put the future of peace in Sudan on the brink of collapse” he added.

But the British embassy stressed that UK policy regarding on the ICC is “unchanged”.

“The UK continues to urge the Government of Sudan to co-operate with the ICC and to take bold, ambitious and concrete action to bring peace in Darfur” the embassy spokesperson said.

In mid-July the ICC prosecutor Luis Moreno-Ocampo announced that he is seeking an arrest warrant for Al-Bashir.

Ocampo filed 10 charges: three counts of genocide, five of crimes against humanity and two of murder. In early October ICC judges have officially started reviewing the case in a process that could possibly drag on to next year.

The African Union, Arab League, Non-Aligned Movement (NAM) and Organization of Islamic Conference (OIC) called for invoking Article 16 which allows the UNSC to suspend the ICC prosecutions in any case for a period of 12 months that can be renewed indefinitely.

But Western members of the UNSC such as US and France made it clear that they would veto such a resolution was introduced at this point in time.

Sudanese officials have expressed increasing optimism that they can secure a suspension before the end of the year.

SUNA published a report this week saying that France and Britain have agreed to boost efforts to push for a deferral following efforts exerted by Syria, the current president of the Arab League, to persuade the two permanent members of the Security Council.

But asked about the news, French diplomatic sources speaking with Sudan Tribune from Paris expressed surprise and reiterated that France had not changed its initial stance on the necessary cooperation with the International Criminal Court (ICC).

Sudan has not ratified the Rome Statute, but the UN Security Council (UNSC) triggered the provisions under the Statute that enables it to refer situations in non-State parties to the world court if it deems that it is a threat to international peace and security. (ST)
Note, SUNA's article made Lord Mark Malloch-Brown look bad. It would make him look good if the article was rubbished and/or retracted. I believed SUNA's article (and still do) which is why I published it here at Sudan Watch. More later, if I can find more. Meanwhile, here is some background to the cat and mouse games being played between UK, France and Sudan. The media is being used to fight a war. Clever stuff. Much better than using violence. More entertaining too.

September 14, 2008 Sudan Watch:
UK works with France to block ICC's prosecution of Sudan's President Al-Bashir

Lord Malloch-Brown

Photo: Lord Malloch-Brown UK Foreign Office Minister for Africa (AFP)

September 18, 2008 - Sudan Watch: Hey Africa correspondent Alex Duval Smith: Is your report in the Guardian's Observer true or what? - British official denies plans to freeze ICC indictment of Sudan’s Bashir

September 20, 2008 - Sudan Watch: TRANSCRIPT & VIDEO: Lord Malloch-Brown in Darfur discussion at the Frontline Club

Jean-Maurice Ripert

Photo: French Ambassador to the United Nations, Jean-Maurice Ripert (AP/ST) September 19, 2008 - Sudan Watch: France says will block any UN resolution seeking to suspend ICC indictment of Sudanese President Omar Al-Bashir - UK denies plans to block ICC indictment of Sudan’s Bashir

British FM pledges to defer Bashir indictment: Sudan state media

Photo: British Foreign Secretary David Miliband, speaks during an interview with the Associated Press, in Damascus, Syria, on Tuesday Nov. 18, 2008 (AP)

November 20, 2008 - Sudan Watch:
UK supports international efforts undertaken in the UNSC aiming to suspend decision by the ICC to indict Sudan's president Al-Bashir says UK's FM

November 20, 2008 via Sudan Tribune:
France surprised by reports on efforts to suspend ICC move
November 19, 2008 (PARIS) - France expressed surprise over reports disseminated by the Sudanese official media about French and British efforts to suspend the International Criminal Court’s jurisdiction on Darfur crimes.

The official news agency SUNA published two days ago reports saying that France and Britain have agreed to boost efforts to vote for a Security Council resolution invoking article 16 of Rome Statue to suspend any indictment of Sudanese president.

SUNA said this move comes after efforts exerted by Syria, the current president of the Arab League, to persuade the two permanent members of the Security Council.

Asked about the news, French diplomatic sources speaking with Sudan Tribune from Paris expressed surprise and reiterated that France had not changed its initial stance on the necessary cooperation with the International Criminal Court (ICC).

Last October Paris informed a Sudanese delegation led by senior presidential adviser Nafi Ali Nafi that there is no alternative to cooperating directly with the ICC to achieve justice in Darfur.

ICC Prosecutor Luis Moreno-Ocampo asked pre-trial judges last July to issue arrest warrants for Sudanese president Omar Hassan Al-Bashir.

Ocampo filed 10 charges: three counts of genocide, five of crimes against humanity and two of murder. Judges are expected to take months to study the evidence before deciding whether to order Al-Bashir’s arrest.

A number of regional organizations including the African Union (AU), Arab League, Non-Aligned Movement (NAM) and Organization of Islamic Conference (OIC) condemned Ocampo’s request and called for a UN Security Council (UNSC) resolution deferring Al-Bashir’s indictment.

Speaking at the Assembly of ICC states parties on November 14, the French Ambassador to Netherlands Jean-François Blarel repeated the official position of his country, which leads the European Union, on the necessary cooperation with the ICC.

The European Union "intends to take this opportunity to reiterate the obligation to cooperate with the Court required from the Government of Sudan under resolution 1593 of the Security Council of the United Nations. That obligation to cooperate is not negotiable."

Sudan has not ratified the Rome Statue, but the UNSC invoked the provisions under the Rome Statute that enable it to refer situations in non-state parties to the world court if it deems that it is a threat to international peace and security.

Related stories at Sudan Tribune:
France says ceasefire is not enough to suspend ICC indictment
France denies agreeing to Chinese proposal on Darfur war crimes
France turns down request by Sudan for mediation with ICC

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