SUDAN WATCH: "We support the government and we'll cut the throat of Ocampo" militiaman Ahmed el-Hassan tells Bashir in Sabdo, South Darfur, W. Sudan

Wednesday, March 18, 2009

"We support the government and we'll cut the throat of Ocampo" militiaman Ahmed el-Hassan tells Bashir in Sabdo, South Darfur, W. Sudan

"We are all Rizaygat (a Muslim Arab tribe), we are all from the popular defence forces," militiaman Ahmed el-Hassan said.

"We support the government and we'll cut the throat of Ocampo," he said, referring to the International Criminal Court's chief prosecutor Luis Moreno Ocampo, who instigated Bashir's prosecution at The Hague-based court.

Nearby, a donkey wore a white sheet over its head with "Ocampo" written in Arabic. [Sudan Watch Ed: sorry no photo of the donkey!]

Source: AFP report 18 March 2009 -
Defiant Bashir returns to Darfur
El-Daien, Sudan - Jubilant militiamen welcomed Sudanese President Omar al-Bashir on a visit to Darfur on Wednesday, two weeks after a arrest warrant was issued against him for alleged war crimes there.

Bashir arrived by helicopter in the village of Sabdo near the South Darfur town of El-Daien, a day after a peacekeeper with the joint UN-African Union force in Darfur was killed in the area in an ambush by unknown gunmen.

Thousands of jubilant militiamen on foot and horseback welcomed the veteran Sudanese leader, clad in a green safari suit, who was expected to address the crowd amid a heavy army presence.

"We are all Rizaygat (a Muslim Arab tribe), we are all from the popular defence forces," militiaman Ahmed el-Hassan said.

"We support the government and we'll cut the throat of Ocampo," he said, referring to the International Criminal Court's chief prosecutor Luis Moreno Ocampo, who instigated Bashir's prosecution at The Hague-based court.

Nearby, a donkey wore a white sheet over its head with "Ocampo" written in Arabic.

The ICC on March 4 issued an arrest warrant for Beshir for alleged war crimes and crimes against humanity during the six-year Darfur conflict, including murder, torture, rape and pillage.

Since then, Khartoum has taken steps to defy mounting Western criticism of the regime, including the expulsion of 13 international aid agencies.

Days after the warrant was issued, Beshir made a visit to Darfur and warned peacekeepers and aid groups to obey Sudanese law or face expulsion.

The United Nations says the aid agency expulsions will leave 1,1-million people without food, 1,5-million without health care and more than a million without drinking water.

Many of the 300 000 people the United Nations says have died in the Darfur conflict starved to death or died from disease. Sudan puts the death toll from conflict at 10 000.

More than 2,7-million people have also fled their homes since ethnic minority rebels rose up against the Arab-dominated Khartoum government in February 2003.

Beshir has said Sudan will replace the work of the expelled agencies and warned on Monday that Khartoum wanted no foreign aid organisations on the ground within a year.

"If they want to bring in aid, they will have to leave it at the airport," he said at a rally in Khartoum

The Sudan Media Centre, a website close to the security services, has said Khartoum is preparing an "alternative plan" to fill the gap, working instead with "national and friendly foreign NGOs."

Sudan has said the expulsions were irreversible, accusing aid agencies of collaborating with the ICC, but they deny any complicity.

Bashir's visit comes as US President Barack Obama was to name a new special envoy to Sudan to confront what Washington sees as the "horrendous" situation in Darfur.

US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton also voiced fresh condemnation of Bashir's expulsion of aid groups, saying he "will be held responsible for every single death that occurs in those camps."

Oil-rich Sudan has seen its income slashed with the slump in the price of crude, and experts say it would be difficult to replace the support and experience of the relief agencies, even if the political will to do so exists.

There are also about 15 500 peacekeepers in Sudan in the joint UN-African Union mission to Darfur (UNAMID), and just under 10 000 in the UN mission monitoring a north-south peace deal (UNMIS).

Tuesday's death brought to 14 the number of peacekeepers killed in Darfur since the hybrid mission took over from a beleaguered African Union force in January 2008.
One wonders if the jubilant militiamen know that the ICC's Prosecutor is appealing the judges 'genocide' decision. See commentary by Alex de Waal at his blog Making Sense of Darfur 15 March 2009.

Sudan's President Omar Al-Bashir

Photo: Sudanese President Omar al-Bashir carries an oath document during a rally in front of his supporters who are against the arrest warrant for him issued by the International Criminal Court (ICC), in Khartoum March 17, 2009. Picture taken on March 17, 2009. REUTERS/Mohamed Nureldin.
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Update from Sudan Radio Service today March 18, 2009:
18 March - (Nyala) - President al-Bashir says that Darfur anti-government groups are fighting the government to obstruct development in the region.

Addressing the people of Bahar Al-Arab in southern Darfur on Wednesday, al-Bashir said that his government is committed to continuing the implementation of development projects in Darfur. He accused anti-government groups of blocking government efforts towards achieving development.

[Omar Al-Bashir]: “We thought that after the peace in southern Sudan we were going to solve Sudan’s problems. But the rebellion broke out in Darfur, and we say that it had started at the wrong time. We had begun to build the Western Salvation Road, but the rebellion started and the first things that the rebellion targeted were the development projects. They hijacked the vehicles, kidnapped the engineers and they destroyed the trucks working on the roads.”

Al-Bashir claimed that the national aid organizations that were expelled by his government were working to separate Darfur from Sudan.

[Omar Al-Bashir]: "These people [the NGOs] came and said that they wanted to help our internally displaced persons by providing them with aid and medicines. We told them, if you want to help, you are most welcome. We opened the door to them, we were generous to them, treated them nicely, but there appeared to be spies and traitors among them. They wanted to separate Darfur from Sudan, to make it an independent country.”

Al-Bashir has reiterated his rejection of the arrest warrant issued against him by the ICC.

[Omar Al-Bashir]:”When we said no to all their plans in Sudan, they said this al-Bashir has become a blockage and we have to remove him, who can remove al-Bashir? (The crowd replies: ‘Only God!’).”

This is the second time President al-Bashir has visited Darfur after the arrest warrant was issued against him earlier this month.
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From Al Arabiya March 18, 2009 excerpt:
Sudan's Bashir makes 2nd Darfur trip since ICC warrant
- Bashir calls for Darfur rebels to lay down arms
KHARTOUM/WASHINGTON (AlArabiya.net, Agencies) - Sudan's President Omar al-Bashir called on Wednesday for Darfur rebels to lay down their arms, during a visit to the conflict-torn region where he stands accused of war crimes, as U.S. President Barack Obama is due to name his special envoy to Sudan to confront what Washington sees as a "horrendous" situation in Darfur.

Vowing to develop the region that has been prey to six years of conflict and decades of neglect, Bashir addressed thousands of jubilant militiamen two weeks after the International Criminal Court issued a warrant for his arrest.

"We want to reunify the people of Darfur and we call on all our sons and brothers who bear arms to put them down," Bashir said on his second visit to Darfur since the warrant was issued.

"Our response (to the ICC) is to bring electricity to Darfur, more buildings, schools, water, more hospitals. We want a reunification of the people of Darfur."

"It's not the U.S. or Britain who chooses the president of Sudan but the Sudanese people," Bashir thundered against two of the countries he sees as the driving force behind his arrest warrant.

Thousands welcome Bashir

Bashir arrived by helicopter in the village of Sabdo near the South Darfur town of al-Daien, a day after a peacekeeper with the joint U.N.-African Union force in Darfur was killed in the area in an ambush by unknown gunmen.

Thousands of jubilant militiamen on foot and horseback welcomed the veteran Sudanese leader.

"We are all Rizaygat (a Muslim Arab tribe), we are all from the popular defense forces," militiaman Ahmed al-Hassan told AFP.

"We support the government and we'll cut the throat of Ocampo," he said, referring to the International Criminal Court's chief prosecutor Luis Moreno Ocampo, who instigated Bashir's prosecution at The Hague-based court.

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