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Sudan Can Opt for Peace or Saber Rattling, says International Crisis Group


-- Analysts and observers are commenting on the possible effects on Sudan of the war crimes charges filed against President Bashir by the International Criminal Court prosecutor.

Among those following developments is Nick Grono, deputy president of the International crisis Group. From Brussels, he spoke to VOA English to Africa Service reporter Joe De Capua.

"First of all, on the international justice front, this is a pretty momentous day for the ICC and international justiceā€¦ There are certainly risks and opportunities presented by the attempt to arrest a head of state. Our concern is that the regime will have to decide how it wants to react. It may decide to kind of lash out at the international community as it were and further destabilize the situation in Sudan and make life difficult for the Un missions there and the ngos and the humanitarian agencies. But it may also decide its best option is actually to move toward peace and that its options are diminishing, and that it should demonstrate good faith if it wants to have the prosecution put on hold," he says.

Grono says that "it's very much with its power" for Sudan to move toward peace. He says, "It has control of the militias, its armed forces, who have been laying waste to Darfur. The government is also a party to the peace agreement that brought an end to the civil war between the north and the south."

However, he says that of late the government has been "obstructing" deployment of a UN peacekeeping force in Darfur and has been "backing away from its commitment" to the north-south peace deal.

The Khartoum government must decide, he says, what's in its best interests. "The regime always has a very kind of calculating approach to its interests. To date, it's decided it's not in its interest to do peace in Darfur. But this may provide leverage that persuades it that that's no longer the case," he says.

Asked why it would not want peace in Darfur, Grono says, "Because the regime doesn't want to share power or wealth."

He says that there's probably "frantic diplomatic activity" going on behind the scenes now that President Bashir faces criminal charges. "The Sudanese government is acting to mobilize its Arab League and African Union support and is speaking to UN Security council members seeking to persuade them that the best course of action is to support the Sudanese government and to act to somehow put the prosecution on hold," he says.

The Security Council has the power to delay such prosecutions for one year.

In the meantime, Grono says the Bashir government has been doing some saber rattling, such as protests, to show its displeasure with the ICC.