Demonstrations are expected in the Sudanese capital Khartoum to protest
the decision of the International Criminal Court's (ICC) chief
prosecutor to bring war crimes charges against President Omar
al-Bashir. As Derek Kilner reports from VOA's East Africa bureau in
Nairobi, the announcement has been greeted with concern by many in
Sudan, including opposition party leaders and the former southern
rebels sharing power in the national government.
prosecutor of the International Criminal Court has requested a warrant
to arrest President Omar al-Bashir on charges of genocide, war crimes,
and crimes against humanity in the conflict in the Darfur region of
Thousands of people participated in
government-organized protests in support of President Omar al-Bashir
during the weekend, and further demonstrations are expected in Khartoum.
many Sudanese groups often hostile to the ruling National Congress
Party are also expressing concern about the charges against the
think that a lot of atrocities [were] committed in Darfur," said Abdel Nabi Ali Ahmed, secretary-general of the opposition Umma Party. "And those who are responsible for these atrocities must be brought
before justice. But then, also, we have to take into consideration
that the last announcement most probably will make a havoc situation in
the Sudan, where the system is now very fragile and the possibility of
a total collapse of the state is highly anticipated."
He said Sudan should be given more time to resolve its problems internally, with more participation from the general public.
to now the international community does not take into consideration the
masses of the Sudanese, always talking about the rebels and the
government," he added. "And that is why the situation is very
complicated, because it is high time that the masses of the Sudanese
should address their own problems. So what do we suggest? A national
conference with certain agenda which should be attended by all the
Sudanese, the parties, the rebels, and others to find the way out."
Umma and other opposition parties in northern Sudan have long
complained that they have been sidelined by peace negotiations between
the government and rebels, whether in the south or in Darfur.
former southern rebels of the Sudan People's Liberation Movement
(SPLM), who have shared power with the National Congress Party in a
tense coalition government since a 2005 peace agreement, have also
raised concern with the pursuit of the Bashir indictment.
Riek Machar is vice president of Sudan's semi-autonomous southern region, which is run by the former rebels.
is regrettable that the prosecutor general has requested warrants of
indictment of President Bashir," he said. "When the ICC prosecutor
general indicted two Sudanese officials, our attitude in the SPLM was
to advise the National Congress, which is headed by President Bashir,
that they should engage the ICC. And this to avert what has happened
now, but this has happened."
Machar says is optimistic that the
implementation of the peace agreement, including national elections
scheduled for next year, will go ahead.
mission spokesman Brian Kelly says some staff members are leaving
Darfur, with fears of retaliation against Western operations in the
"There is a temporary relocation of non-essential staff,
some may be relocated to neighboring countries, and some internally
within various sectors in Darfur," he said. "The security situation is
monitored and assessed on a regular basis, so there is an ongoing
review of the security situation."
He says non-essential staff in Khartoum have been told to stay home, but operations in southern Sudan have not been affected.
fears in Darfur were already high after gunmen ambushed a U.N.-African
Union patrol in Darfur last week, killing seven peacekeepers. The
United Nations says its peacekeeping operations are continuing as