Sudan’s Minister of Information, Ahmed Bilal, has said President Omar al-Bashir feels vindicated now that the International Criminal Court prosecutor has said she wants to stop her investigation in Darfur, at least for now.
Fatou Bensouda reportedly told the UN Security Council last week she wants to stop her investigation because no one has been brought to justice in a decade and the council has done little or nothing to help.
The ICC indicted Bashir for orchestrating genocide, war crimes and crimes against humanity in Darfur, but no African country has been willing to arrest him.
Bilal said his country has known all along that the charges were politically motivated.
He called Bashir a man of peace who has stopped Africa’s longest civil war.
“From the very beginning, we were saying that the whole story is just a political action. It is not about justice. Our president has actually done a lot to bring peace in the country. The very eminent thing for that is he stopped the longest war in Africa which cost the [separation] of the South and loss of a third of our country,” he said. “When he did that, some people who don’t want calm in the area and peace in Sudan tried to bring [up] the problem of Darfur.”
Bilal said Sudan has been negotiating in Doha with those who want peace in Darfur. Also, he said Bashir has called for a national dialogue for all Sudanese groups to negotiate the future of the country. He said the logical thing for ICC prosecutor Bensouda should to do is to drop all charges against Bashir.
The Sudan opposition parties and the UN Human Rights office have all criticized Khartoum for the arrests earlier this month of a number of opposition politicians.
Spokesperson Ravina Shamdasani for the High Commissioner for Human Rights said the arrests appeared aimed at “silencing political opposition and criticism” of the government.
“We urge the government to cease the harassment and prosecution of political activists, human rights defenders and other public commentators such as journalists and bloggers for peacefully exercising their rights to freedom of expression and opinion,” Shamdasani said.
Bilal said those arrested refused to join the national dialogue.
“Everybody here in Sudan is calling for peace and dialogue. They went to Addis Ababa to convince the rebels not to come, and they have joined them (the rebels) to topple the regime, not through dialogue but through resistance and war. What do they want from us, to make them come and go freely and to plot?” he said.
He said the arrests are only for security reasons and that those arrested detainees will soon be released. Bilal said there is a double standard when it comes to international criticism of what Sudan does and what other countries do.
“In fact, in other countries, we have seen opposition leaders and even students go to jail in thousands without any comment from the so-called international community and others calling for democracy and human rights. Not even a word,” Bilal said.