SUDAN WATCH: In Darfur, Bashir issues message warning all diplomats, NGOs and peacekeepers in Sudan

Sunday, March 08, 2009

In Darfur, Bashir issues message warning all diplomats, NGOs and peacekeepers in Sudan

Today, at a rally in El Fasher North Darfur, where the Darfur peacekeeping operation (UNAMID) is based, Sudan's President Omar Al-Bashir, accompanied by the UN Special Representative of the Secretary-General for the Sudan Ashraf Qazi - among other members of the diplomatic corps - issued a message threatening to expel more diplomats, aid bodies and peacekeepers in Sudan.

"I have a message to all the diplomatic missions in Sudan, the non-governmental organizations and the peacekeepers," al-Bashir warned. "They have to respect the rule of the country. If anyone goes further than the rule of the country, we will kick them out directly," the leader added while waving a cane at the crowd of supporters.

Al-Bashir accused aid groups of stealing funds allocated to Darfur, saying only a fraction of the donated money actually makes it to the people. "We tell them this is not going to continue," he said to the cheering crowd. "We are ready to fill the gap ... we will spend it from our pocket."

"Those who respect themselves, we will respect them. Don't interfere in something that doesn't concern you," al-Bashir said. "Don't do anything that would harm the country's security and stability."

"Whoever deviates, we will not let them stay, whether a voluntary organization, an envoy, a diplomatic mission or a security force," he added.

The rally was attended by a number of diplomats from Egypt, Jordan, Lebanon and other Arab countries.

A Chinese company signed a contract to build a road in the area during the ceremony.

El Fasher has been the field headquarters for many of the main aid groups operating in Darfur. Most have now left. Mr Bashir has claimed that they were helping the ICC prepare its case, and his officials have seized computers and office files said to contain evidence to support the president's claim. All of the aid agencies deny that they exceeded their mandate.

"While some 85 international NGOs (non-governmental organisations) operate in Darfur, without these organisations much of the aid operation literally comes to a halt," the UN said in a statement.

“The Government of Sudan's order suspending 16 non-governmental organizations (NGOs) will have devastating implications for the citizens of Darfur,” said a joint statement issued by six UN agencies, including UN Children''s Fund (UNICEF) and UN High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR).

“Aid operations in North Sudan, the largest humanitarian emergency in the world costing over $2 billion annually, will be irrevocably damaged,” read the statement.

Mutrif Siddig, the foreign ministry undersecretary, said that government agencies would cover those programmes lost by the expulsion of the aid agencies.

"The decision of the authorities expelling foreign organisations... is an irreversible decision," Foreign Ministry official Murtif Sidiq said in a statement carried by the official Suna news agency.

Sources: (the following 7 news reports from Press TV Iran, Aljazeera, Times, Radio France Internationale, UN News Centre, AP, Telegraph UK)

From Press TV Iran, Sunday, 8 March 2009 - excerpt:
Bashir threatens more diplomat expulsion
Sudan's leader threatens to expel more diplomats and aid bodies from the country, in wake of his ICC indictment over alleged war crimes.

Although President Omar al-Bashir has ridiculed the warrant against him issued by the International Criminal Court on charges of 'war crimes and crimes against humanity', he has shown a growing impatience with foreign officials and organizations in the East African nation.

"I have a message to all the diplomatic missions in Sudan, the non-governmental organizations and the peacekeepers," al-Bashir warned on Sunday during a visit to the conflict-torn Darfur region.

"They have to respect the rule of the country. If anyone goes further than the rule of the country, we will kick them out directly," the leader added while waving a cane at the crowd of supporters.


Sudan closed down 10 aid agencies, including such respected organizations as Oxfam and Doctors Without Borders - Médecins Sans Frontières (MSF) - hours after the ICC announcement on Friday.

The license of three more agencies has been revoked since, with the president dubbing the closed down bodies 'spies' and 'thieves'. [...] ZHD/MMN
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Sudanese President Omar Al-Bashir attends weekend rallies in Khartoum and El Fasher, north Darfur, western Sudan

Sudan President Bashir

Photo: Sudanese President Omar al-Bashir in traditional southern headdress in Khartoum on Saturday, March 7, 2009, where he attended a rally by supporters from south Sudan in Khartoum. (Photo: Reuters)

Sudan President Bashir

Photo: Sudanese President Omar al-Bashir, wearing a traditional feathered headdress and colourful beads, salutes upon his arrival to a rally attended by supporters from south Sudan in Khartoum. (AFP/Ashraf Shazly Saturday, March 7, 2009)

From Aljazeera Sunday, Sunday, March 8, 2009 -
Al-Bashir speaks at Darfur rally - excerpt:
Thousands of people gave al-Bashir a rapturous welcome on his arrival in the city of Al Fasher, the state capital of north Darfur, on Sunday.

Al-Bashir sent "a message" to foreign diplomats, aid workers and peacekeepers working in the country.

"They have to respect the rule of the country. If anyone goes further than the rule of the country, we will kick them out directly," he said. [...]

"They speak as if they are the masters of the world, as if they determine the fate of all the peoples of the world" al-Bashir said at the rally, in reference to the ICC.

"We reject and refuse, and we will continue to reject and refuse,' he said.

"We will never hand over any Sudanese citizen. We will not kneel to them."

However, Mohamed al-Hassan Ibrahim, the deputy head of mission at the Sudanese Embassy in Qatar, told Al Jazeera that al-Bashir's trip to Darfur was not a provocative act.

"Going to Darfur was already scheduled before the ICC decision. He is going to look at development projects and also he will be looking at a new road that is to be built from Darfur," Ibrahim said. [...]

Al-Bashir, danced in front of supporters wearing a traditional feathered head dress, outside the Friendship Hall in Khartoum, the capital, on Saturday.

There he defended his expulsion of more than a dozen foreign aid groups.

He said the aid workers are "spies" and "thieves", and his supporters burnt in effigy an ICC official.

"No matter what they do, they will not sabotage peace," al-Bashir said, in reference to Khartoum's peace deal with the south of the country.

"We will protect the peace. In two years the southerners will decide - do they want one Sudan or two states?" [...]

Mutrif Siddig, the foreign ministry undersecretary, said that government agencies would cover those programmes lost by the expulsion of the aid agencies, which includes, Save the Children and Oxfam. [...]

Amr Moussa, the Arab League's secretary general, met al-Bashir at the presidential palace on Saturday, to discuss the arrest warrant.

Earlier Moussa said the ICC decision provoked the "anger of the Arab League."

He said it would support al-Bashir in facing threats against Sudan. [...]
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From Times Online
By Rob Crilly in Kharthoum
Sunday, March 8, 2009
President al-Bashir of Sudan taunts the West as aid agencies warn of crisis

Bashir

Photo: Mr al-Bashir told cheering supporters in El Fasher, North Darfur, that he would expel anyone who oppposed him (Nasser Nasser/AP)
President Omar al-Bashir arrived in Darfur today looking more like a conquering hero than one of Africa’s most wanted men.

He danced and waved a sword in front of thousands of cheering supporters in El Fasher, capital of North Darfur, before warning that he was prepared to expel anyone who got in the way of his Government.

“I have a message to all the diplomatic missions in Sudan, the NGOs and the peacekeepers,” he said.

“They have to respect the rule of the country. If anyone goes further than the rule of the country, we will kick them out directly.”
Mr al-Bashir’s visit was the latest show of defiance after the decision of the International Criminal Court (ICC) to issue a warrant for his arrest on Wednesday.

He is wanted on two counts of war crimes and five crimes against humanity in Darfur, where an estimated 300,000 people have died.

The Sudanese Government immediately expelled 13 aid agencies, responsible for delivering food, water and medicine to millions of people. They were accused of supplying evidence to the ICC.

Days before Mr al-Bashir’s visit to El Fasher, the Sudanese military put on a huge show of strength. More than 150 battlewagons and armoured personnel carriers rumbled through the dusty streets as ground-attack Sukhoi warplanes screamed overhead.

And Mr al-Bashir himself has appeared at several rallies to underline his grip on power.

The United Nations is warning of a vast humanitarian crisis with more than a million people deprived of food and a million more with no drinking water.

“If the life-saving assistance these agencies were providing is not restored shortly, it will have immediate, lasting and profound impacts on the well-being of millions of Sudanese citizens,” the UN warned.

“It is not possible, in any reasonable time frame, to replace the capacity and expertise these agencies have provided over an extended period of time.” More than two million people are stranded in aid camps, forced from their homes by six years of fighting.

The conflict began when rebels rose against a government they accused of neglecting Darfur.

Bashir

Photo: Mr al-Bashir attacked the West over Vietnam and the killing of Native Americans. He said: "Why are they not on trial? (Nasser/AP)"
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From Radio France Internationale, Sunday, 8 March 2009 - Beshir defies international court at Darfur rally - excerpt:
At a rally in North Darfur on Sunday, Sudanese President Omar al-Beshir swore that his country "will never hand over any Sudanese citizen" to the International Criminal Court, which has issued a warrant for his arrest. [...]

On the visit to the region which was the scene of his alleged crimes, Beshir said that his international opponents "speak as if they are the masters of the world".

"They are angry with us because we are attached to God and the teachings of the prophet," he told a large crowd, which had turned out to oppose the warrant.

Beshir travelled from the airport at the state capital, El-Fasher, in an open-topped vehicle, waving to thousands of people who lined the route.

Officials in Khartoum say that there will be no going back on the decision to expel aid agencies, which it accuses of co-operation with the international court.

"The decision of the authorities expelling foreign organisations... is an irreversible decision," Foreign Ministry official Murtif Sidiq said in a statement carried by the official Suna news agency.

The UN says that the expulsions will reduce the aid capacity in Darfur by "more than half", leaving 1.1 million people without food, 1.5 million people without health care and more than a million without drinking water.
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Bashir in El Fasher, N Darfur

Photo:Sudanese President Omar al-Bashir, right, on top of a vehicle gestures to crowds that gathered to greet him upon his arrival at the North Darfur state capital of el Fasher, Sudan Sunday, March 8, 2009. (AP Photo/Nasser Nasser)

From UN News Centre, Sunday, March 8, 2009:
UN mission reports calm as Sudanese President visits strife-torn Darfur region
Sudanese President Omar Al-Bashir, who was indicted by the International Criminal Court (ICC) earlier this week, visited the war-ravaged Darfur region today, accompanied by the top United Nations official for Sudan among other members of the diplomatic corps.

During the visit to the capital of North Darfur, El Fasher, where the hybrid African Union-UN peacekeeping operation in the region (UNAMID) is based, the President addressed the local population at a rally.

The Special Representative of the Secretary-General for the Sudan Ashraf Qazi arrived in El Fasher with Mr. Bashir, who the ICC has issued an arrest warrant against for war crimes and crimes against humanity committed in the western region of Sudan.

Since the ICC made its decision, several humanitarian agencies, aiding some 4.7 million people in Darfur, have been barred from working in the region by Khartoum.

“The Government of Sudan's order suspending 16 non-governmental organizations (NGOs) will have devastating implications for the citizens of Darfur,” said a joint statement issued by six UN agencies, including UN Children''s Fund (UNICEF) and UN High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR).

“Aid operations in North Sudan, the largest humanitarian emergency in the world costing over $2 billion annually, will be irrevocably damaged,” read the statement.

Meanwhile UNAMID reported that the security situation in Darfur remains relatively calm with the exception of an increase in banditry in El Geneina, West Darfur.

The UNAMID force and police continue to conduct their normal activities throughout the region and over the past 24 hours the blue helmets conducted 25 confidence-building patrols, seven escort convoys, 11 night patrols covering 40 villages/IDP camps, and 87 police patrols in and around camps for internally displaced persons (IDPs).

On 6 March, UNAMID Police Commissioner Micheal Fryer led a night patrol to Zam Zam IDP camp, where he met the Umda, a traditional leader.

An estimated 300,000 people have died in Darfur, either through direct combat or because of disease, malnutrition or reduced life expectancy, over the past five years in Darfur, where rebels have been fighting Government forces and allied Arab militiamen, known as the Janjaweed, since 2003.
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Sudan's president warns foreigners in Darfur

Sudan's President Al-Bashir in El Fasher, North Darfur

Photo: Sudanese President Omar al-Bashir, dances while brandishing a sword, to crowds that gathered to greet him after his arrival at the North Darfur state capital of el Fasher, Sudan Sunday, March 8, 2009. (AP)

From Associated Press report by Sarah el Deeb - excerpts:
Sudan's president warns foreigners in Darfur
Omar al-Bashir was greeted by thousands of cheering supporters, including some on horse and camel back, in the North Darfur capital of El Fasher. He told the throngs that others could also be told to leave if they got involved with the ICC case.

The rally was attended by a number of diplomats from Egypt, Jordan, Lebanon and other Arab countries.

"Those who respect themselves, we will respect them. Don't interfere in something that doesn't concern you," al-Bashir said. "Don't do anything that would harm the country's security and stability."

"Whoever deviates, we will not let them stay, whether a voluntary organization, an envoy, a diplomatic mission or a security force," he added.


A Chinese company signed a contract to build a road in the area during the ceremony, reflecting Sudan's continuing close ties with China, which activists have accused of not using its economic leverage to press for peace in Darfur. [...]

The crowd waved aloft pictures of al-Bashir as well as posters of ICC prosecutor Luis Moreno Ocampo with an X drawn over his face.

"Tell them all, the ICC prosecutor, the members of the court and everyone who supports this court that they are under my shoe," he said. In the Muslim world, stepping on somebody or striking them with shoes is considered an insult.

Hundreds lined the streets of El Fasher as al-Bashir paraded through the town waving from the back of an open pickup truck.

The governor of northern Darfur, Mohammed Kebir, told the crowd at the ceremony that this showed that the president was not afraid to visit a region where he supposedly had committed war crimes.

Al-Bashir accused aid groups of stealing funds allocated to Darfur, saying only a fraction of the donated money actually makes it to the people.

"We tell them this is not going to continue," he said to the cheering crowd. "We are ready to fill the gap ... we will spend it from our pocket." [...]
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Airport North Darfur, Sudan

Photo: An honor guard lines up upon Sudanese President Omar al-Bashir arrival at the airport of the North Darfur state capital of el Fasher, Sudan Sunday, March 8, 2009. (AP Photo/Nasser Nasser)

Bashir in El Fasher, Darfur

Photo: Sudanese President Omar al-Bashir, left inspects an honor guard upon his arrival at the North Darfur state capital of el Fasher, Sudan Sunday, March 8, 2009. (AP Photo/Nasser Nasser)

From Telegraph UK by Mike Pflanz in Nairobi, Sunday, 8 March 2009 - excerpts:
Sudan's Omar Bashir threatens foreigners during defiant Darfur visit
Wearing a safari suit and brandishing a sword as he addressed a rally of thousands of cheering supporters, Mr Bashir said "the Court and anyone who works for it are under my feet" - a serious insult in Arabic.

"I have a message to all the diplomatic missions in Sudan, the NGOs and the peacekeepers," he told the crowd in El Fasher, capital of north Darfur.

"They have to respect the rule of the country. If anyone goes further than the rule of the country, we will kick them out directly."

In a calculated show of defiance, Mr Bashir stood before the crowd and listed atrocities he said were carried out by the West, from the mass killing of Native Americans during the foundation of the United States, to the bombings of Hiroshima, Vietnam and Iraq.

"They killed millions of Indians ... Why are they not on trial," he shouted.

Much of the region's rural population does not support the president, but he is popular in Darfur's main towns. It is likely, however, that some of the crowd would have been paid or encouraged to attend by security forces.

El Fasher has been the field headquarters for many of the main aid groups operating in Darfur. Most have now left. Mr Bashir has claimed that they were helping the ICC prepare its case, and his officials have seized computers and office files said to contain evidence to support the president's claim.

All of the aid agencies deny that they exceeded their mandate.

The United Nations, which has been allowed to continue working, said on Saturday that the groups which were expelled accounted for more than half of the humanitarian contingent in Sudan's western provinces.

"While some 85 international NGOs (non-governmental organisations) operate in Darfur, without these organisations much of the aid operation literally comes to a halt," the UN said in a statement.
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Note from Sudan Watch:  The names of the thirteen NGOs ordered to leave Sudan appear to be: Oxfam GB, Care, MSF-Holland, Mercy Corps, Save the Children UK, Norwegian Refugee Council, International Rescue Committee, Action Contre La Faim, Solidarities, CHF International, Save the Children USA, PADCO, MSF-France.

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