SUDAN WATCH: Arab League meetings in Doha headed by Qatar to discuss ICC arrest warrant against Sudan's Bashir & Qatari peace bid - Obama backs Bashir indictment

Thursday, February 05, 2009

Arab League meetings in Doha headed by Qatar to discuss ICC arrest warrant against Sudan's Bashir & Qatari peace bid - Obama backs Bashir indictment

Sudanese Ambassador Ibrahim Abdullah Fakiri told Gulf Times on Tuesday that a solution to the Darfur crisis would include providing water and pastures for its people and launching a development process. Great. Bring it on. See report from Gulf Times by Ourouba Hussein February 4, 2009:
Doha to host conference as Darfur diplomacy gathers pace

AN ARAB League committee headed by Qatar will meet in Doha soon to discuss the aspects of a potential world court arrest warrant against Sudanese President Omar al-Bashir, Sudanese Ambassador Ibrahim Abdullah Fakiri told Gulf Times yesterday.

Fakiri said this meeting would be followed by a conference in Doha to discuss the Qatari efforts to solve the Darfur crisis, particularly the outcome of the parleys by Minister of State for Foreign Affairs HE Ahmed bin Abdullah al-Mahmoud and UN and African Union mediator for Darfur Djibrill Bassole.

“The Arab League committee, which had met in Doha on January 17, decided to send a delegation to New York to request the cancellation or postponement of the International Criminal Court’s proceedings against Bashir,” the envoy said, adding that Khartoum would continue its non-co-operation with the International Tribunal looking into the alleged atrocities committed against the people of Darfur.

“This move is against the provision of immunity to heads of state.” No president had been brought to justice while in power, he pointed out.

Maintaining that the Darfur conflict was the result of an international conspiracy against Sudan, the envoy stressed that the strife was not ethnic, as circulated by a section of the media.

“It did not start in 2002, but began before 1900 between shepherds and farmers. However, the Darfur tribes fused afterwards and they now have one language, religion and common interests.”

Fakiri said foreigners exploited conflicts between the Darfur tribes and with the proliferation of weapons, the dispute widened. “It was all the result of a plan hatched to create instability and divide Sudan.”

According to him, some foreigners feared that Sudan, which is rich in natural resources, would emerge as a strong nation after the implementation of the Naivasha, South, East and Abuja peace agreements and “they whipped up the Darfur crisis within one year to make it an international issue”.

Talking about his country’s natural resources, he said it comprised 200mn acres of arable land, 42mn acres of forests, water, minerals, livestock and oil.

“The conspiracy was aimed at tapping the wealth of Sudan, especially that is strategically located in Africa.”

Fakiri maintained that the international tribunal’s move against President Bashir was part of the external plot aimed at destroying all efforts to solve the Darfur crisis and a threat to the security and stability of Sudan. “It also sends the wrong message to the armed factions in Darfur.”

The ambassador said the plot was aimed at creating chaos in Sudan. “Another president could cancel the peace agreements signed by Bashir.”

Fakiri said that after the president declared a ceasefire in Darfur, the army was able to maintain peace and check the activities of the armed factions.

According to him, a solution to the Darfur crisis would include providing water and pastures for its people and launching a development process.

He said that many committees, recently formed by the people of Darfur, have been meeting to study a solution, “a solution, acceptable to the people of Darfur, and compatible with Sudan’s unity”.
Related reports

Nov. 29, 2008 Sudan Watch: Launch of joint Arab-African peace initiative for Darfur - Qatari Peace Bid: UN, EU, AU, AL, UK, US & France support the joint Arab-African peace initiative for Darfur led by Qatar & Sudan People's Forum (SPF) - Qatar have proposed to host peace talks to end the five year war in the western Sudanese region of Darfur.

The Joint Chief Mediator for Darfur Djibril Bassole

Photo: Djibril Bassole arrived in El-Fasher the capital of North Darfur August 28, 2008 to take up his new post as the Joint Chief Mediator for Darfur. Mr.Bassole was appointed by the United Nations Secretary-General and the African Union Chairperson in June to conduct full-time mediation between Darfur rebels and the government. The top diplomat of Burkina Faso is expected to use his wealth of experience to re-energize the stalled Darfur peace process. (UN Radio/Sudan Watch archives)
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Nov. 20, 2008 Sudan Watch: Joint chief mediator Djibril Bassolé meets Bahar Idriss Abu Garda, leader of JEM & SLM splinter group URF, in El Fasher N. Darfur, W. Sudan
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Feb. 03, 2009 Sudan Watch: UN/AU chief mediator Djibril Bassole says Darfur rebels should speak with one voice
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Feb. 4, 2009 report published at Sudan Tribune Feb. 5 - excerpt:
JEM rebels and peace mediator discuss confidence building measures

The Justice and Equality Movement and the joint peace mediator today held a meeting in the Chadian capital, Ndjamena to discuss a roadmap for the peace process particularly confidence building measures.

The meeting comes hours after the withdrawal of JEM troops from South Darfur flashpoint town while the Sudanese army celebrated the capture of Muhageriya pledging to defeat JEM troops in other battles.

A rebel delegation led by JEM leader Khalil Ibrahim discussed with Djibril Bassolé measures to create a conducive environment with the Sudanese government before to begin peace talks under the Qatari sponsorship.

Speaking from Ndjamena where the meeting was held, Ahmed Hussein Adam, the official spokesperson of the rebel movement said today’s meeting indicates JEM commitment to the political solution of Darfur crisis despite the ongoing tension in southern Darfur.

"The meeting discussed the necessary confidence building measures that Khartoum should implement before to negotiate in good faith," Adam said.

He also added that a meeting could be take place in Doha very soon with a delegation from the government of national unity to discuss these measures.

Last December, JEM handed over to the Qatari government a roadmap to the peace talks. The rebel plan included some measures to be implemented by the government of Sudan before the talks.

These confidence building measures include the release of JEM fighters detained or sentenced after a raid on Khartoum last May, the IDPs protection, the halt forced repatriation of the displaced, and cessation of air strikes on civilians.

The Arab League last September has authorized Qatar to spearhead efforts to bring Darfur warring parties to the negotiating table. Since, Qatari officials and the joint mediator held a series of talks with the main rebel groups in order to prepare for the talks.

The former rebel group of Minni Minnawi that signed a peace deal with Khartoum in May 2006 asks to join the process as independent party but Sudanese government vetoes the demand and says they can be part of government delegation.

Darfur rebel groups still show some reserve toward the Arab League and the African Union efforts to end the six year war in western Sudan. Rebels believe that the peace process should not lead to suspend the indictment of the Sudanese president by the International Criminal Court.

"Dr Khalil Ibrahim clearly underscored during the meeting that peace process should not affect the ICC jurisdiction on Darfur crimes," said JEM spokesperson. He also reiterated their condemnation to any attempt to prevent the ICC from issuing an arrest warrant for the Sudanese president.

"The leadership of the movement stressed that the ICC is part of the equitable peace process" Adam said.[...]

JEM leader Khalil Ibrahim

Photo: Khalil Ibrahim, rebel leader of the JEM, during a meeting with AU envoy to Darfur Salim Ahmed Salim in the area of Kariarii, near the Chadian border July 8, 2007.
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Feb 4. 2009 report at Sudan Tribune - excerpt:
Sudan 2nd VP holds talks with Turkish officials amid local criticisms:

Sudan's 2nd VP Taha was accompanied in his visit to Turkey by presidential adviser Ghazi Salah Al-Deen, Foreign ministry Undersecretary Mutrif Sideeq and security and intelligence Chief Salah Gosh.

The Sudanese Vice president earlier met with Turkish Parliament Speaker Koksal Toptan at the parliament. Afterwards Taha told reporters that his meeting with Koksal tackled “bilateral issues and current issues of common interest to both countries…Darfur definitely on the agenda”.

Sudanese VP Taha in Turkey

Photo: TV footage showing Sudanese 2nd Vice president Ali Osman Taha upon his arrival in Turkey February 3, 2009 when he met with the Turkish Prime minister Recep Erdogan.
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Feb. 4, 2009 report from APA-Kampala (Uganda) JM/pm re Museveni-Bashir-ICC:
Sudan President accuses Europe of a re-colonization plot

APA-Kampala (Uganda) Sudanese President Omar al Bashir on Tuesday said his indictment by the International Criminal Court (ICC) is a wider plot by European countries to target African leaders and warned that if African leaders allow it to succeed they will be targeted one by one.

Bashir said this when he met Uganda President Yoweri Museveni on the sidelines of the AU summit in Addis Ababa.

According to a State House release from Kampala, Bashir briefed Museveni on the situation in Darfur, which he described as a re-colonization plot by the European countries.

“This ICC indictment is political. Europeans are targeting African leaders. If we allow it to succeed, they will target other heads of state,” he warned.

Museveni said African leaders should institute a committee to investigate the allegations leveled against Bashir by the ICC before they pronounce themselves over the matter.

A committee, headed by former South African President Thabo Mbeki along with other prominent African personalities, has been proposed to investigate the matter.

Bashir dismissed allegations by the ICC that the Sudanese government is carrying out genocide in Darfur.

Contrary to these accusations, his government has done a lot to pacify the region, he said.

He said Sudan was not a member of the ICC and therefore the Sudanese judicial system should handle cases from Darfur, not the ICC.

He said that the ICC indictment is an impediment to a peaceful solution in Darfur.

Museveni agreed with his Sudanese counterpart that the indictment be delayed until independent investigations by the AU committee.

He, however, advised Bashir to ensure that laws of war are respected, such as protection of innocent civilians and punishing leaders of militias who are accused of terrorizing and killing innocent people.

“The ICC indictment means that the government of Sudan is accused of failure to respect war rules,” he said.

He also advised Bashir to use both legal and tradition means to reconcile the Sudanese people affected by war and criticized the practice of Arabising the African tribes in the Sudan.
Sudan's Bashir

Photo source: Eric Reeves' blog post at The New Republic: Another Bloodbath in Darfur?
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Feb. 3, 2009 report from CNS News by Patrick Goodenough, International Editor - excerpt:
Gaddafi, Newly Elected African Union Head, Strongly Opposes Darfur Indictment

The Libyan, a former international pariah whose leadership aspirations include founding a “United States of Africa,” has strongly opposed attempts by the International Criminal Court (ICC) to indict Sudanese President Omar al-Bashir on charges relating to the conflict in western Sudan’s Darfur region.

Shortly after prosecutors in The Hague last July accused Bashir of involvement in genocide, crimes against humanity and murder and asked judges to issue an arrest warrant, Gaddafi discussed with Sudanese leaders ways to block what he described as the “false” charges.

Apart from their A.U. connection, Libya and Sudan are both members of the Organization of the Islamic Conference (OIC), which has closed ranks around Bashir while accusing the ICC of “double standards” for focusing on Sudan rather than other countries, notably Israel.

At the A.U. summit, the president of the body’s administrative Commission, Jean Ping, told the leaders that the bloc was seeking international support for a 12-month postponement in ICC judges’ consideration of the Bashir indictment request, so as “to give a greater chance to the peace process.”

At an A.U. summit in Addis Ababa on Monday, Gaddafi was elected as chairman for the next year. A group of traditional leaders accompanying his delegation hailed him as the “king of kings.”

Libyan leader Col Gaddafi

Photo: Col Gaddafi was elected as the African Union's new head this week. (BBC Feb. 4, 2009: AU summit extended amid divisions)

Feb. 4, 2009 report from Reuters' Africa Blog by Daniel Wallis:
Gaddafi keeps African leaders talking

Gaddafi keeps African leaders talking

Despite the extremely tight security at this week’s African Union summit in Ethiopia, one brief lapse gave some journalists covering the meeting a very rare glimpse behind the scenes.

Reporters at the annual meeting in Addis Ababa are normally kept well away from the heads of state, except for the occasional carefully managed press conference, or a brief word thrown in our direction as they sweep past in the middle of a phalanx of sharp-elbowed, scowling bodyguards.

As the talks dragged well past midnight on Tuesday, long after the summit was scheduled to end, a European diplomat approached me and a colleague: “Want to see something interesting?”

Leading us down an outside staircase, we were suddenly confronted with the sight of dozens of African leaders consulting in private.

The curtains in the meeting room had been left open a little, and we had a perfect view of Libya’s Muammar Gaddafi holding forth. Gaddafi, who was elected AU chairman at the summit, appeared to be particularly animated — although we couldn’t hear what he was saying.

But as the discussions neared 2 a.m., the other presidents became visibly more and more tired.

Zimbabwe’s President Robert Mugabe, sitting just a couple of metres away, looked particularly dejected, often holding his head in his hands. Ugandan President Yoweri Museveni stared stonily ahead. AU Commission chairman Jean Ping, sitting next to Gaddafi, stifled a few yawns.

But still Gaddafi, who is urging the leaders to agree to his long-held dream of a United States of Africa, pushed on.

I ran to tell colleagues and soon a couple of photographers were snapping away through the glass. It was bright inside, and pitch black outside, so the presidents couldn’t see us.

“Nobody use flash: security will be here in a split second if they see it,” one Kenyan cameraman warned.

And still the talks went on.

Several leaders kept checking their watches, and others began surreptitiously packing their attaché cases, perhaps in the hope of heading back to their hotels to sleep or to enjoy the last few hours of Addis Ababa nightlife.

Then an aide brought the gold-robed Gaddafi another steaming pot of tea.

Would anybody be able to leave before dawn?

Moments later, Museveni decided to act.

Leaving his seat, he walked the length of the hall and whispered something in the Libyan leader’s ear. Gaddafi looked up at him, laughed, and moments later the meeting broke up.

We quit our unprecedented vantage point on the stairs and raced with scores of other journalists, bodyguards and officials to the entrance to the hall. Maybe we would get the press conference we’d been waiting for after all.

But no such luck.

A large posse of burly bodyguards suddenly swept past, Gaddafi at its centre. He was going back to his tent, set up in the gardens of a palatial hotel.

“Go home and sleep,” he told the throngs of reporters thrusting microphones at him and hurling questions. “Come back tomorrow.”
Heh. Great style. He makes me laugh.

Liberian President Ellen Johnson-Sirleaf

Photo: Liberian President Ellen Johnson-Sirleaf denied Col Gaddafi had stormed out. (BBC Feb. 4, 2009: AU summit extended amid divisions)
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Feb. 5, 2009 report from the Washington Times by Jon Ward and Betsy Pisik - excerpt:
EXCLUSIVE: Obama backs indictment of Sudan leader

"We support the ICC and its pursuit of those who've perpetrated war crimes. We see no reason to support deferral [of the indictment] at this time," said Ben Chang, a spokesman for Mr. Obama's national security adviser, retired Marine Gen. James L. Jones.

Billboards line the road leading to the airport in Khartoum

Photo: Billboards bearing messages backing Sudanese President Omar Bashir line the road leading to the airport in Khartoum. Agence France-Presse/Getty Images.


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