Arab League nations held a crisis conference to establish a common strategy after the International Criminal Court's prosecutor requested the indictment of Sudanese President Omar Hassan al-Bashir, accused of war crimes in the Darfur region.
Algeria urged other Arab nations on Saturday to press the United Nations Security Council to prevent the International Criminal Court (ICC) from issuing an arrest warrant for Sudanese President Omar Hassan al-Bashir.
The ICC's chief prosecutor, Luis Moreno-Ocampo, has asked the ICC for a warrant for Bashir on suspicion of masterminding crimes against humanity in his country's troubled Darfur region.
"What the prosecutor of the court has done is a dangerous precedent," Algerian Foreign Minister Mourad Medelci told his Arab counterparts, holding an emergency meeting in Cairo to discuss the ICC move against Bashir.
"We have (to take) ... a strong stance in solidarity with our brothers in Sudan and move effectively with regional and international organisations and the ... states in the Security Council to immediately reconsider this demand by the prosecutor," he said, according to advance extracts of his speech.
Sudan has asked China and Russia, as well as the Arab League and the African Union, to help it pursue a U.N. Security Council resolution suspending a warrant for Bashir for 12 months.
Arab countries, largely ruled by autocratic governments, usually resent allegations of human rights violations in the region.
Analysts say Arab leaders are also concerned that failing to thwart the ICC move against Bashir may encourage more foreign intervention in their affairs.
Diplomats in New York say the Arab League and the AU's Peace and Security Council are expected to call on the Security Council soon to block any ICC moves in the interests of bringing peace to Darfur, devastated by the five-year-old conflict.
Moreno-Ocampo accused Bashir of running a campaign of genocide that killed 35,000 people outright, at least another 100,000 through a "slow death" and forced 2.5 million to flee their homes in Darfur.
Many Arabs and Muslims accuse Western powers of launching a war on their faith in the name of human rights while ignoring what they see as war crimes committed by Israel against the Palestinians and by U.S. troops in Iraq.
Date created : 2008-07-19