Sudan will demand that the "criminal plot against our country" be stopped
Sudan changes tack on al-Bashir warrant
Western states back bid to prosecute, but China balks. The Sudanese government will drop its campaign to have the UN Security Council delay prosecution of President Omar al-Bashir for a year.- - -
Instead the country will demand that the "criminal plot against our country" be stopped, Sudan's UN envoy said yesterday.
At Sudan's urging, the African Union and the Arab League had earlier been lobbying the 15 members of the Security Council to delay arresting al-Bashir if the International Criminal Court issued a warrant so that UN and AU efforts to bring an end to the six-year conflict in Darfur could continue without any disruption.
But after the court issued an arrest warrant yesterday for al-Bashir on charges of war crimes and crimes against humanity in Darfur, Sudan's UN Ambassador, Abdalmahmood Abdalhaleem Mohamed, told a news conference that the government has now decided to abandon its effort to seek a delay.
Richard Dicker, head of the International Justice Programme at Human Rights Watch, said Sudan was dropping the effort because the Security Council's veto-wielding permanent members are deeply divided on whether or not to delay the warrant - with the US, Britain and France opposed and China, which buys two-thirds of Sudan's oil, and Russia thought to be in favour.
"They understand the maths… and see there is not sufficient support to implement a deferral," Dicker said.
"This is dead in its tracks at the moment."
African and Arab nations fear the warrant against al-Bashir will destabilise the whole region, bring even more conflict in Darfur and threaten the fragile 2005 peace deal.
But the US, France and Britain made clear they would not support a delay - a view reiterated yesterday by US Ambassador Susan Rice, who said: "The US supports the ICC action to hold accountable those who are responsible for the heinous crimes in Darfur."
Sudan's Mohamed accused the US, Britain and France of using the International Criminal Court "to destabilise Sudan and to dominate the country".
"They are targeting among other things our wealth, our oil, our land and our new political importance - no doubt about that," he told a news conference.
The Rome statute that set up the court allows the Security Council, under Article 16, to pass a resolution to defer or suspend for a year the investigation or prosecution of a case.
It also gives the council authority to renew such a resolution.
China today echoed the Sudanese envoy, urging the court to drop the warrant.
"China opposes anything that could disrupt efforts to realise peace in Darfur and in Sudan," said Foreign Ministry spokesman Qin Gang in a statement posted today on the ministry's official website.
Mohamed did not say what Sudan would do to dismiss the case, but he predicted that the warrant would bring "the beginning of an end" of the International Criminal Court - "this destabilsing tool in the name of justice".
Thirty African countries are among the court's 108 member states. Some have reportedly threatened to pull out of the court in retaliation for the warrant against al-Bashir.
"This court has become the court of the new American justice," Mohamed said, "and the feeling widely felt in Africa (is) that only the Africans are targeted, and it is… a situation that Africa is not going to accept."
The African Union's Peace and Security Council was scheduled to meet in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, today to discuss the warrant, he said, and the African members of the ICC will also meet to discuss their association with the court.
Human Rights Watch's Dicker disputed his assessment as "scare-mongering."
He said he saw "a depth of support for the ICC" in Africa where three governments have asked the court to probe crimes that could implicate government officials. - Sapa-AP
From China View 5 March 2009:
Bashir slams ICC's ignorance of Iraq, Gaza at arally in Khartoum
KHARTOUM, March 5 (Xinhua) -- The Sudanese Presidents Omar al-Bashir on Thursday lashed out at the International Criminal Court(ICC) for its ignorance over Iraq and Gaza at a massive rally in Sudan's capital city Khartoum.Hopefully, this issue will unite Sudan and help them start growing their own food to help the needy. Like I've said many times here before, Sudan needs world class land rights lawyers to sort out land ownership rights and how and where to house the homeless and farms with access to clean drinking water and irrigation. Step up resolving the Abyei boundary issue. Do not impose sanctions.
"The ICC ignores the criminal acts in Iraq and Gaza," the president said, referring to two war-torn territories where large numbers of civilians have been killed in the past few years.
The embattled president made the remarks at a massive rally on an avenue outside the Council of Ministers, where tens of thousands of people attended, meant to express Sudanese support for the president in face of the ICC's arrest warrant issued Wednesday.
Earlier, Bashir said at a special session of the Council of Ministers that the government has decided to expel 10 foreign NGOs, including Oxfam, Medical Sans Frontier, and two domestic organizations for their violation of the law and cooperation with the ICC.
"I thank the ICC's decision, for it can do nothing but help unify the Sudanese people," Bashir added, calling on all parties to establish a comprehensive coalition to cope with "colonialism and hegemony."
Wielding his trademark stick and chanting slogans, Bashir's rhetoric was hailed by the crowd who raised flags, banners, portraits of the president and a forest of arms.
"We will get rid of the disruptions and implement development schemes...to forge a great nation." he added.
Earlier on Wednesday, the Hague-based ICC issued an arrest warrant against Bashir for war crimes and crimes against humanity in the country's restive western region of Darfur between 2003 and2008.
However, the genocide accusation, filed by the ICC's prosecutor Luis Moreno-Ocampo in July, was not included in the final decision, according to the court's statement.