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Sudan slams threat of genocide charge

Latest update : 2008-07-12

A senior Sudanese official warned that any move by the International Criminal Court to try President Omar al-Bashir for genocide in Darfur could "destroy the peace process". Darfur rebel groups however, welcomed the move.

Representatives of Darfur rebel groups on Friday welcomed news that International Criminal Court prosecutors would seek the arrest of Sudan President Omar al-Beshir.
   
Sudan Liberation Movement Unity's (SLM) Sharif Harir said: "Hallelujah. I think that the people in Darfur and the movements will be very happy."
   
Meanwhile the Justice and Equality Movement's (JEM) Ahmed Hussein described it as "good news for the people of Darfur".
   
"It would be a very historical kind of victory for humanity," he added.
   
Earlier on Friday, US State Department spokesman Sean McCormack confirmed that ICC prosecutors would seek Beshir's arrest as they open a case covering crimes committed in the Darfur region over the last five years.
   
"I understand that the prosecutor intends to go before a panel of judges to present information and request for a warrant," said McCormack.
   
The news prompted an angry reaction from the Sudanese government, with the state minister for foreign affairs Al-Samani al-Wasila telling AFP that any decision about the president could "destroy the peace process".
   
But both SLM and JEM representatives said they were "not worried" about any retaliation.
   
"There's nothing they can do that they are not already doing," said Hussein.
   
The SLM and JEM representatives were in Geneva attending a two-day workship with United Nations officials on the humanitarian situation in Darfur.
   
Humanitarian adviser at the Centre for Humanitarian Dialogue Denis McNamara said the centre and the UN's humanitarian affairs bureau OCHA had put together the workshop as the situation was "getting drastic and getting worse".
   
So far this year, some 164 humanitarian vehicles have been hijacked, said McNamara, and some 60 drivers are still missing.
   
Most recently, seven UNAMID peacekeepers were killed in an ambush.
   
"This is a dire humanitarian situation, we're running out of adjectives for Darfur. Personally I don't see how humanitarian agencies can continue at this rate of attacks," said McNamara.
   
After the workshop, both rebel groups issued a joint statement saying they "strongly denounce all attacks on humanitarian workers, car-jacking and condemn the recent attack on UNAMID".
   
In the statement, they said they would "strengthen" their efforts to trace and intercept hijacked vehicles and stolen aid materials that move through areas controlled by their respective groups.
   
"We reaffirm our commitment to clearly instructing our personnel on the ground regarding their obligations under human rights and international humanitarian law," said to the statement.

Date created : 2008-07-12

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