15 July 2008

Sudan: AU Urges ICC to Suspend Bashir Warrant

Addis Abeba — African Union (AU) chair Tanzania wants the International Criminal Court (ICC) to suspend any moves to arrest Sudan's President Omar Hassan al-Bashir for genocide in Darfur, news reports indicated citing the country's foreign affairs as saying on Monday.

"We would like ICC to suspend its decision to seek al-Bashir's arrest for a moment until we sort out the primary problems in Darfur and southern Sudan," Bernard Membe, Tanzania's Minister for Foreign Affairs was quoted as speaking on behalf of AU Chairman and Tanzanian President Jakaya Kikwete.

The International Criminal Court's (ICC) prosecutor on Monday charged Sudan's president with masterminding a campaign of genocide in Darfur, killing 35,000 people and using rape as a weapon of war.

ICC Prosecutor Luis Moreno-Ocampo asked the court for an arrest warrant for President Omar Hassan al-Bashir, the first sitting head of state to be pursued by an international court since Liberia's Charles Taylor and before that Yugoslavia's Slobodan Milosevic.

Moreno-Ocampo said 35,000 people had been killed outright in attacks by Sudan's armed forces and the Janjaweed militia they support, while 2.5 million others were subject to a campaign of "rape, hunger and fear" in refugee camps Sudan said later on the same day it did not recognise any decree coming from the International Criminal Court (ICC).

"We consider the indictment of either the president or any other normal citizen of Sudan the same -- we don't recognise whatever comes out from the ICC, to us it is non-existent," news reports quoted Foreign Ministry spokesman Ali al-Sadig as saying.

ALI-al-Sadig added Sudan would continue with the Darfur peace process and would protect all United Nations personnel in the country, according to reports from Sudan's capital Khartoum.

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