Radio Dabanga (Hilversum)

1 March 2013

Sudan: President Al-Bashir's Visit to Darfur Sparks Negative Reactions

North Darfur — Reports of a two-day visit of the Sudanese President Omar al-Bashir to North Darfur next week has sparked wide negative reactions among three of Darfur's rebel groups who ensure the trip will not go "smoothly".

According to reports, al-Bashir is scheduled to visit the towns of El-Fasher, Atina and Al-Tueisha next Wednesday and Thursday, 6 and 7 March.

Jibril Adam Bilal, spokesman of the Justice and Equality Movement (JEM), is urging residents of North Darfur not to welcome the president.

He said this trip is insulting and humiliating to the victims of the Darfur war and noted it comes just after the 10-year mark of conflicts in the region.

Bilal claims that while in the region, the president will in fact assess the effects of his crimes and meet foreign militias who recently entered Darfur and settle them there.

Besides, he wants to send a false and misleading message to the displaced and refugees that the war has ended and that they can return to their villages, the spokesman told Radio Dabanga.

JEM asserted the head of state's visit will not go by "smoothly", without further elaboratng its plans.

Omar al-Bashir is wanted by the International Criminal Court (ICC) in The Hague for the crimes he is suspected of committing in Darfur, Bilal reminded.

SLM-MM: "cheap propaganda"

The Sudan Liberation Movement-Minni Minawi (SLM-MM) described the president's trip to Darfur as "cheap propaganda" to cover the failures of the ruling National Congress Party (NCP) to impose peace with weapons.

In addition, this event is aimed at deluding the international community that Darfur is stable and safe, Adam Saleh Abkar SLM-MM military spokesman was quoted as saying.

Al-Bashir will be dealt with as a legitimate target of war as long as the international community fails to arrest him following the ICC warrant, Abkar told Radio Dabanga.

He warned Darfur residents not to come near the towns al-Bashir will travel to, adding his reception at the ICC "will not be flowers".

SLM-AW: "raise pace of killings"

"The goal of the president's visit to North Darfur is to mobilize militias, the Popular Defense Forces, Islamist extremists and other fighters to raise the pace of killings and destruction in Darfur", SLM-Abdel Wahid's military spokesman said.

Mustafa Tambour noted al-Bashir's travels will complicate the situation in the region and worsen the crisis, adding this does not tackle Sudan's general problems.

SLM-AW forces stationed in North Darfur will move towards El-Fasher, Atina and Al-Tueisha "when the time is right", Tambour said.

He urged all citizens to boycott the president's journey to North Darfur, stressing he is wanted by the ICC.

ICC charges

Last December, the ICC's prosecutor, Mrs. Fatou Bensouda, submitted a statement to the UN Security Council announcing she may include new war crimes charges against Sudanese officials over the conflict in Darfur.

These crimes are "thwarting delivery of humanitarian aid, attacks on UNAMID peacekeepers as well as bombardments and other direct attacks on civilian populations".

She stated these are similar charges to those already considered by the Judges of the ICC, which "may constitute war crimes, crimes against humanity, and genocide".

Bensouda affirmed that after eight years of reported efforts on the part of the Government of Sudan authorities, it should be clear to the Council that the Government of Sudan is neither prepared to hand over the suspects nor to prosecute them for their crimes.

It is believed that 300.000 people died and over two million were displaced in the 10 years of war in Darfur.

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