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Arab League Warns of Fallout From ICC Charges for Sudan's Leader


The head of the Arab League has expressed concern about the decision of the International Criminal Court's chief prosecutor to seek an arrest warrant for Sudan's president. As Derek Kilner reports from VOA's East Africa bureau in Nairobi, the Arab League plans to hold a special meeting on the issue this weekend.

Arab League Secretary-General Amr Moussa addressed reporters in Cairo, where the organization has its headquarters.

"The situation is very serious and very dangerous. At the same time we are not convinced that the decision taken, or the steps taken, within the criminal court have been well considered. That is why we need to consult and take a collective stand in cooperation with the African Union and in consultation with the United Nations," said Moussa. "All of us are very concerned about the repercussions of that step that has been taken last week."

Moussa said he would travel Sunday to Sudan, following an Arab League foreign ministers meeting Saturday in Cairo. The chief of protocol at Sudan's foreign ministry, Ali Yussuf, said Sudan requested the meeting.

"The aim is to show solidarity with the Sudanese leader that the ICC has no right to indict the president and there is no evidence that links the president to the atrocities that took place in Darfur. That the judicial system in Sudan is capable of addressing all the issues of human rights violations and all the crimes that took place in Darfur," said Yussuf.

Egypt and China have also expressed concern about the consequences of the decision to charge Mr. Bashir.

The ICC's chief prosecutor is seeking an arrest warrant for the Sudanese president on charges of war crimes, crimes against humanity and genocide, for his role in the conflict in the western region of Darfur.

While many in Sudan, including opposition political parties have expressed concern with the announcement, the prosecutor's decision has been largely welcomed by rebel leaders in Darfur.

Suleiman Marajan is commander of one of the Sudan Liberation Movement's many factions.

"It is very good for us, we are very glad. Because Bashir has done many things bad in Darfur, they have killed all the civilians in Darfur. He killed many, many, many people in Darfur. All the people in Darfur now they are very glad to this action," said Marajan.

Meanwhile, the joint U.N. - African Union peacekeeping mission in Darfur continues to relocate non-essential staff members due to concerns about retaliation for the Bashir charges. Spokesperson Josephine Guerrero says about 100 people had left by late Wednesday.

"The first group left yesterday. Some are going to neighboring countries. And relocation also means within Darfur, so some offices within Darfur were just moving some staff back around, and also movement within Sudan, so some may be moving from Darfur to other bases within Sudan," said Guerrero.

The U.N. decision to increase the security level was also precipitated by an ambush on a patrol last week that killed seven peacekeepers. Guerrero said that peacekeeping patrols are continuing as normal.

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