As the International Criminal Court's chief prosecutor prepares to
issue new arrest warrants in an investigation into the conflict in the
Darfur region of Sudan, there is growing speculation that Sudan's President Omar al-Bashir will himself be targeted. But as Derek Kilner
reports from VOA's East Africa bureau in Nairobi, many observers fear
the consequences that such a move might have on the security situation
on the ground, as well as for peace efforts to end the conflict.
International Criminal Court, or ICC, issued a statement Thursday, that
Chief Prosecutor Luis Moreno-Ocampo would on Monday present new
evidence on crimes committed in Darfur and announce new indictments of
one or more individuals. Nobody has yet been named, but many expect
President Omar al-Bashir himself will be the target.
activists say such a move would be welcome, increasing pressure on
Sudan's president to change his government's policies in Darfur.
many observers of the conflict are concerned about the ramifications of
such a move. Issaka Souare, a researcher at the Institute for Security
Studies in South Africa, says an indictment of President al-Bashir or
other top officials could make peace efforts more difficult.
cannot overestimate the implications of such a move on the situation in
Darfur," said Souare. "It will one, make it difficult for mediators to engage the
Sudanese authorities who are already reluctant to cooperate on certain
issues with the mediators. You will then have given the
authorities in Sudan another excuse for not engaging with the mediator
and the international community. You do not sign up to a peace
agreement just to find yourself incarcerated."
over the past two years have achieved little, complicated by a growing
number rebel factions among other problems, and show little indication
of getting back on track any time soon.
But perhaps of more concern, is the effect that new indictments could have on the ground in Darfur.
might also lead to some sort of reprisals against peacekeepers on the
ground or an exacerbation of the armed conflict situation. So one
cannot doubt the possible implications should it turn out to be the
case, on the ground in Darfur," said Souare.
Earlier this week,
seven peacekeepers from the joint U.N.-African Union force were killed
in an ambush. The identity of the attackers is not yet known, but some
observers fear that the gunmen may have belonged to the
government-backed Janjaweed militia, since the government is worried
that peacekeepers could be used to carry out ICC warrants.
peacekeeping force has been able to deploy fewer than 10,000 of
its projected 26,000 personnel. U.N. officials and humanitarian workers
have expressed concern about the security of their operations if top
officials are indicted.
So far, two Sudanese citizens are wanted
by the ICC. Ali Kushayb is a leader of the Janjaweed, and Ahmad Haroun
is Sudan's minister for humanitarian affairs. Sudan has refused to
cooperate with the ICC, and government spokesman Rabie Atti says that
policy will continue.
"There is a concrete decision," he said.
"No Sudanese citizen or a minister or a president will be handed to the
ICC. And this is final. Whether this is al-Bashir, or the minister of
humanitarian issues, or minister of interior, or just a simple man
going in the street. This has already been decided."
conflict in Darfur has killed between 200,000 and 300,000 people since
2003, and displaced over two million, according to U.N. estimates.