Darfur, Sudan: ICC's deputy prosecutor, Fatou Bensouda, urged nations to "deny Omar al-Bashir any form of support"
Photo: The prosecutor of the International Criminal Court, Luis Moreno-Ocampo, left, speaks at a press conference as Deputy Prosecutor Fatou Bensouda, right, looks on, at the seat of the Court in The Hague, Netherlands, Monday, July 14, 2008. Moreno-Ocampo has filed genocide charges against Sudanese President Omar Al-Bashir. The charges include masterminding attempts to wipe out African tribes in Darfur with a campaign of murder, rape and deportation. (AP Photo/Fred Ernst)
Court prosecutor: isolate Sudan's president
By MIKE CORDER Associated Press Writer April 07, 2009
via Contra Costa Times:
THE HAGUE, Netherlands—The International Criminal Court's deputy prosecutor urged world leaders on Tuesday to cut ties with Sudanese President Omar al-Bashir, who is wanted by the court for alleged war crimes in Darfur.
The U.N.-backed tribunal issued an arrest warrant for al-Bashir last month on charges including genocide for allegedly orchestrating efforts to wipe out three African tribes in his oil-rich country's Darfur region.
Since then, al-Bashir has made a series of trips to neighboring African countries and an Arab League summit in Qatar. He also expelled 13 major relief organizations from Darfur—a move denounced around the world.
The international court has no police force and relies on other countries to execute arrest warrants.
The 22-member Arab League said, however, it decided not to enforce the warrant when al-Bashir attended the Qatar summit March 30, as many Arab and African countries have said pursuing al-Bashir could further destabilize the region.
The court's deputy prosecutor, Fatou Bensouda, urged nations to "deny Omar al-Bashir any form of support."
"States should implement a consistent diplomatic campaign to support the court's decision," she told diplomats in The Hague. "Nonessential contacts with Omar al-Bashir should be severed."
Fighting in Darfur since 2003 has left up to 300,000 people dead and driven another 2.7 million from their homes, the United Nations says.
It says al-Bashir's expulsion of the 13 humanitarian agencies has deprived more than 3 million people of crucial food aid, health care or drinking water.
"The expulsion of aid workers is another step in the commission of the crime of extermination," Bensouda said.
Photo: Sudanese President Omar al-Bashir, on top of a vehicle, cente, drives past supporters as he arrives back home after attending the Arab summit in Doha, in Khartoum, Sudan, Wednesday, April 1, 2009. Thousands of chanting, singing people greeted the Sudanese president, who's wanted for war crimes, as he returned Wednesday from his trip to the Arab League Summit. (AP Photo/Abd Raouf)
Sudanese president urges Darfur rebel groups to join peace talks
From China View April 07, 2009:
ZALINGEI, West Darfur, Sudan, April 7 (Xinhua) – Sudanese President Omar al-Bashir urged on Tuesday rebel groups in western Sudanese region of Darfur to join the negotiation in order to reach a peaceful settlement to the conflict in the region.- - -
Addressing a rally of local residents in Zalingei town in West Darfur state, al-Bashir said that peace and security were the key for development and reconstruction in the region, adding that the government could not implement projects of development and reconstruction in areas affected by war without security and consensus for a peaceful solution.
Al-Bashir reiterated his government's commitment to development in Darfur and payment of individual and collective compensation for those affected by the war and returning of displaced persons to their homelands.
After arriving in the town of Zalingei in West Darfur in the morning, the Sudanese president inaugurated a number of projects of development and basic services, primarily hospitals and health centers.
Al-Bashir's visit to the Darfur region came in the framework of the Sudanese government's efforts to persuade political parties in the region the need for consensus on a political solution to end the conflict which has lasted for more than five years.
This was the third visit for al-Bashir in Darfur since the International Criminal Court (ICC) issued on March 4 an arrest warrant against him over charges of war crimes and crimes of anti-humanity.
Sudan president: Peace in hands of Darfur people
From Associated Press April 08, 2009 - excerpt:
Sudan's embattled president on a visit to Darfur Tuesday called on the people of the region to bring armed groups battling the government around to peace talks.
It was the third visit by Omar al-Bashir to Darfur since the International Criminal Court issued an arrest warrant for him March 4 for allegedly orchestrating atrocities against Darfur's ethnic African tribes. His comments came in the western Darfur town of Zaleingi, home to a prominent rebel leader and the closest al-Bashir has ever been to rebel-held areas.
"You are the people suffering, and you are the people who want peace, and you will be the ones to bring peace," he told the crowd of thousands at the organized rally.
On Tuesday, al-Bashir appeared less confrontational than in recent speeches. Although still critical of the expelled aid groups, the president welcomed those offering humanitarian help so long as they didn't violate Sudan's sovereignty.
He blamed rebel groups for sabotaging peace overtures, and undermining security and development in the region, and called on Darfurians to bring them around.
"What is asked of you is to bring peace. No one here doesn't have contact (with the rebels). No one in the bush doesn't have relatives in the town...These are our sons. What you care about they care about, and what they care about, you care about," he said.
Zaleingi native, Abdelwahid Nur, a rebel leader who now lives in exile, has repeatedly refused to join peace talks, saying the government must first bring security to Darfur, and disarm government-allied militias.
Rebuffing international efforts to hold people accountable for the Darfur conflict, al-Bashir said it should be up to the people of Darfur to bring justice to the region. He said local tribal committees are working to determine the victims and culprits, and that the government will pay compensation.
Commentator Al-Tayeb Zein al-Abdeen, a professor in Khartoum University, said after showing defiance, al-Bashir is now looking for a way out of the ICC impasse.
"He has finished his first round. Nothing is left now...and the tone is reconciliatory," Zein al-Abdeen said.
The Sudanese president also said an African Union-appointed panel, headed by former South African president Thabo Mbeki, will visit Darfur soon to assess the conflict and find ways to achieve reconciliation and justice. Mbeki said a report will be ready in July.