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Sudan's President Denies Involvement in Darfur Violence


Sudanese President Omar al-Bashir denied in an interview with NBC news Monday that his government had any involvement in the violence in Darfur. VOA's Sean Maroney reports from Washington.

Sudan's President Omar al-Bashir is rejecting reports that government-backed Arab militias called janjaweed have burned thousands of villages in Darfur.

Mr. Bashir tells NBC news that, while some villages have been burned, women have been raped and people have died, reports of violence from the region are either exaggerated or false.

"Yes, there have been villages burned, but not to the extent you are talking about,"said al-Bashir. "People have been killed because there is war. It is not the Sudanese culture or people of Darfur to rape. It doesn't exist. We don't have it."

Mr. Bashir also says the former junior interior minister, Ahmed Muhammed Harun, who was charged with war crimes by International Criminal Court prosecutors, is innocent and will not appear before the court.

"I'm sure that he did not participate in any war crimes," he said.

He said any Sudanese accused of war crimes would be tried by the country's judicial system.

Mr. Bashir also accuses the United States of trying to gain control of Darfur's rich oil and gas reserves.

The United States and several human rights groups has called the atrocities in Darfur genocide.

Fighting between rebel groups, the government and militias has claimed some 200,000 lives and driven two million others from their homes.