Khartoum has sharply rejected the
international arrest warrant against President Omar
issued by the International Criminal Court (ICC) over his alleged involvement
in war crimes and crimes against humanity in the restive Darfur region. The
Sudanese government described the move as a western conspiracy after it decided
to expel 10 foreign organizations, two local, and dissolved two others after
accusing them of collaborating with the International Criminal Court (ICC).
Wednesday's arrest warrant
is the first to be issued against a sitting head of state by the Hague-based
court, which stopped short of including a count of genocide over a conflict
that U.N. officials say has killed as many as 300,000 people. The allegations
stem from violence carried out in Darfur between 2003 and 2008. President
Bashir is accused of instructing his forces to destroy three non-Arab ethnic
groups in Darfur with the intention of genocide, leaving millions displaced
from their homes in addition to the large death toll. Senior vice president of
the International Crisis Group Mark Schneider tells reporter Peter Clottey that
the international community clearly needs to back the warrant after Khartoum
rejected the indictment.
ICC indictment for atrocity crimes in Darfur follows a long investigation that
clearly demonstrates to the court his responsibility. And as a result of the
indictment, obviously for the victims of the Darfuri massacres, this provides a
clear statement of the crimes that they suffered, and there are grounds to
believe that Bashir was personally responsible," Schneider pointed out.
He said there is need for
the international community to demonstrate its backing of the arrest warrant
against President Bashir.
think to some degree as a result of their rejection, the international
community has to be even more clear about its own response in support of the
court. And in that regard, I think one of the first things to do is for the
international community to make clear its determination to take action if there
is any kind of retaliation against the internally displaced persons inside
Darfur, against humanitarian agencies - and that would be the worse possible
result. Hopefully, the government of Khartoum does not do that," he said.
Khartoum views the warrant in a different light, which culminated in
"I think that is the view of
the government of Sudan, and it's not the view of the ICC really. The ICC
believes that it has full authority to review war crimes, crimes against
humanity, which are exactly what the indictment charged Wednesday," Schneider said. "Where did it
take place? In this case, Darfur. And one would hope in fact that the
government will take a step back and look for a way to establish a fully
credible, internationally credible system of judicial accountability and would
undertake their actions aimed at a peaceful settlement of the Darfur conflict.
At the same time, it still has responsibility of fully implementing the
Comprehensive Peace Agreement (CPA) with respect to the North-South conflict in
He is hopeful that
executives of the ruling party would back the full implementation of the 2005
comprehensive peace accord, which effectively ended the war between the North
and the South.
"One would hope that those
within the NCP (National Congress Party) who have the ability to make decisions
would understand that it's in their long-term interest to cooperate with the
ICC and to fully implement the CPA and to fully seek to ensure the
consolidation, if you will, of the North-South peace. That is the only way,
truly, that the country would be able to move forward, and that you could have
some lifting of sanctions in the future," he noted.
UN Secretary-General Ban
Ki-Moon has urged Khartoum to cooperate with all U.N. entities and ensure their
safety after the warrant was issued for Bashir's arrest. Earlier in the day, several thousand people waving pictures of Bashir turned
out in a rally in Khartoum and denounced the court. Schneider says the
protesters could have been organized by Khartoum.
"I think that there are two
things: one is to what degree do observers believe that those demonstrations
are spontaneous, and to what degree do they believe that they were organized
and paid for and directed by the government agencies. I think the latter is
essentially the case," Schneider pointed out.