UNSC members China, Russia, Libya, Uganda and Burkina Faso support invoking Article 16 to suspend Sudan's Bashir indictment
UN Ready for Attacks in Sudan After Bashir Indictment (Update1)
By Bill Varner February 5, 2009
United Nations peacekeepers in Sudan are preparing for attacks following the likely indictment this month of President Umar al-Bashir for war crimes in Darfur by the International Criminal Court, a UN envoy to the nation said.
“We have received assurances of protection and cooperation from Sudanese authorities at the highest levels,” Ashraf Qazi told the UN Security Council today. “But these assurances have been qualified by warnings about public outrage. There have also been public threats and incitements to violence.”
The UN said an ICC decision is expected this month on prosecutor Luis Moreno-Ocampo’s request for an arrest warrant for Bashir on charges of genocide, war crimes and crimes against humanity in Darfur. He said in July that Bashir masterminded a plan to wipe out three African tribes as part of a counter-insurgency against a rebellion there.
The UN estimates that as many as 300,000 people have died in Darfur since February 2003. The Security Council decided in March 2005 to refer crimes committed in Darfur to the ICC, which is based on The Hague.
“We cannot predict what the public outrage would be,” Sudanese Ambassador Abdalmahmood Abdalhaleem said. “This would be a crazy move, an insult to the country. It would be like a dead rat, smelling but having no use at all. It would die a natural death.”
Renewed Civil War
Diplomats warned of a renewal of civil war in southern Sudan and the region’s attempted secession from the country. A Darfur rebel group, the Justice and Equality Movement, vowed last month to invade the capital Khartoum, capture Bashir and hand him over to the court in the event he is indicted.
“No one is interested in having things destabilized, but it is unpredictable,” Russian Ambassador Vitaly Churkin said.
The Security Council is divided over a British proposal to condemn the Sudanese army’s recent attack on the South Darfur town of Mahajiriya, and on a possible response to Bashir’s indictment. Council members China, Russia, Libya, Uganda and Burkina Faso have expressed support for adoption of a resolution to suspend an indictment.
“We must allow the work of the ICC to go ahead,” U.K. Ambassador John Sawers said. “We do not believe there is any conflict between peace and justice. They both need to be pursued.”
U.S. Ambassador Susan Rice told reporters on Feb. 3 that she didn’t know whether the attack on Mahajiriya was linked to a possible indictment of Bashir, or what would happen if an arrest warrant is issued.
“I certainly wouldn’t want to speculate about what will transpire,” Rice said. “The use of aerial bombardments, the movement of rebel forces, clashes on the ground and deliberate targeting of civilians is not something that has transpired only in the potential anticipation of an arrest warrant; it’s something that’s characterized the conflict for many years.”
To contact the reporter on this story: Bill Varner at the United Nations firstname.lastname@example.org
Last Updated: February 5, 2009 15:01 EST