-- Egyptian President
Hosni Mubarak met for several hours today in Khartoum with Sudanese leader Omar
al-Bashir. The two men discussed the crisis in Darfur, over which the
International Criminal Court (ICC) could issue an arrest warrant for Mr.
Al-Bashir for war crimes.
Grono, deputy president of the International Crisis Group, spoke from
Brussels to VOA English to Africa Service reporter Joe De Capua about the
Egyptian president's visit to Sudan.
good that Egypt is engaged in what is a very important regional issue for it.
Egypt has always been concerned about what happens in Sudan," he says. One main
reason is importance of the Nile River, which flows through Sudan.
Mubarak is quoted as saying, "The best way to find a solution to this problem is
the Arab and African initiative." Grono explains, "There's an initiative at the
moment, which is called the Qatari Initiative. The government of Qatar is
looking at holding peace talks with the involvement of the Sudanese government
obviously, the chief mediator and those rebel groups that are willing to
participate, and pulling together the African Union and Arab League in this
process. That initiative got underway two or three months ago, although it's
yet really to be fleshed out and it's unclear exactly what's being proposed."
possibility that the ICC could seek the arrest of the Sudanese leader plays a
major role in peace efforts. "It's a very important issue. Right now, the
judges of the International Criminal Court are considering an application by
the prosecutor as to whether to issue an arrest warrant for President al-Bashir
for crimes against humanity, genocide and war crimes. The latest speculation is
the decision may be December or more likely January. If the arrest warrant went
ahead, then President Bashir would be facing arrest if he traveled outside the
country for various serious crimes. The Sudanese government is very, very
concerned about this and seeking to take, at least superficial steps that would
address the threat. And what its strategy is focused on is what's called
Article 16 of the Rome Statute," he says.
says that Article 16 is a provision of the ICC that gives the United Nations
Security Council an option "to put prosecutions on hold for one year renewable.
So, right now, Sudan is trying to persuade the UN Security Council to exercise
that power and defer the prosecutions."
Sunday Sudan rejected a call by rebel group JEM, the Justice and Equality
Movement, for one-on-one talks with the government. JEM had called for the
separate talks since various rebel groups had failed to unite on the issue.
crisis in Darfur could also affect the stability of the 2005 Comprehensive
Peace Agreement (CPA), which ended the civil war between the north and the
south. Grono says, "What happens in Darfur has the potential to destabilize all
of Sudan. And the SPLM, the ruling party in the south, is watching very closely
what the implications of that are. The big picture issue is what happens with
South Sudan, which should have a referendum on independence in 2011. And so the
government in Sudan and the South are positioning themselves and viewing
everything through the lens of their strategic interests, vis-à-vis, that
International Crisis Group deputy president would like to see US
president-elect Obama become more engaged in the Sudanese peace process.
"His foreign policy experts have
spoken out very strongly in the past on Sudan. He has a great deal of expertise
at his disposal on this. And we hope that the US will engage in a comprehensive
way. In the past, the US has kind of had divisions between state and defense
and the war on terror interests and peace and stability interests. And we hope
that the new administration will come in with a strong comprehensive approach
to building peace and security in Sudan."