The government of
Southern Sudan is reacting to the ICC arrest warrant for the Sudanese
president. Ezekiel Lol Gatkuoth, head of mission to the United States for
the Southern Sudan government and member of the SPLM Party leadership, says, "We have actually been calling for the
National Congress Party to cooperate with ICC. And of course, as it is issued
now, we have told them they need to receive this with restraint and calm and
not to spread violence because it will have a lot of implications on our
country. We are actually asking the National Congress Party and the Sudanese to
deal with this legally."
Asked if dealing with it legally means
President Bashir resigning, Gatkuoth says, "That is actually going to be up to
the National Congress Party, how they're going to deal with this. But it is
actually a legal matter. It is not actually a political issue…. And they need to cooperate with the ICC in whatever
way they can do this."
Some fear the arrest warrant will threaten the
Comprehensive Peace Agreement (CPA). However, he says, "I don't think so
because there is no correlation between the ICC and the CPA. The ICC issued
(the warrant) because of the atrocities committed in Darfur…. But of course we
are worried because if there is any instability in the whole country, it means
also everything will be affected, not only the CPA, but the whole region as a
whole will be affected."
Gatkuoth says the SPLM is ready to assist in
whatever way possible. "His Excellency, President Salva Kiir…is willing to
help…in his capacity as vice-president of the Republic of Sudan."
Other reaction to the ICC arrest warrant came
from a joint news conference hosted by the ENOUGH Project. John Norris,
executive director of the group, says, "I think this is a very good day for
international justice. I think it's a very good day for improved prospects for
peace in Sudan."
He responds to those who suggest the warrant
will mean an increase in violence. "I think that simply isn't borne out by the
international experience to date," he says. And while it's unclear how
President Bashir would be brought before the court, a trial, he says, is
possible. "There's no obvious vehicle to deliver Bashir to the court
immediately, but as we have seen with Charles Taylor…as we have seen with the
more than 50 people who were convicted by the tribunal for the former Yugoslavia,
justice does find a way."
ENOUGH co-founder John Prendergast says,
"From interviewing countless numbers of displaced and war-affected Darfurians
they don't see a tension between justice and peace. They feel it would be
impossible to have peace without justice. These refugees and displaced people
that have been…the visible impact of the crimes against humanity that have
unfolded in Darfur put the problems I think in the clearest of terms…. How can
you have peace when the president of Sudan has tried to exterminate us?"
Prendergast says the warrant will cause China
and the Arab world to reevaluate their relationship with Sudan. China has major
oil interests in Sudan.
Also commenting on the ICC action is David
Crane, former chief prosecution for the UN-backed Special Court for Sierra
Leone, who describes the warrant as "facing down the beast of impunity." Crane
signed the indictment against former Liberian leader Charles Taylor, who's
currently on trial for war crimes and crimes against humanity in connection
with the Sierra Leone civil war. Crane adds, "This indictment…will bring peace.
I think that the president of Sudan's political support will begin to soften
and dry up as people pull away because no one wants to be seen or deal with an
indicted war criminal."
Crane says although Mr. Bashir was not
charged with genocide, the full story of Darfur will be told. "I don't think
it's a moment to be disheartened by the fact that the charge of genocide was
not returned. This issue being: has the gravamen [seriousness] of the offenses
against the people of Darfur still been framed in the indictment? And the
answer is it has. Be mindful of semantic issues related to what we call what
has been going on. There's still some debate as to whether it was or was not
genocide. But at the end of the day, the end result is we have a prosecution
for the horror story that was Darfur."
Crane adds, "The world will know what the president of
Sudan has done as well as his cohorts."