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African Union diplomat says Bashir warrant is like 'oil on the fire'

Latest update : 2008-08-06

The African Union has criticised a move by the International Criminal Court to indict Sudanese President Omar Hassan al-Bashir for genocide and war crimes in Darfur, saying it's like pouring "oil on the fire".

KHARTOUM - The African Union said on Monday a move
by the International Criminal Court (ICC) to indict Sudanese
President Omar Hassan al-Bashir for genocide and war
crimes in Darfur was pouring "oil on the fire".
 

Africa's top diplomat Jean Ping met Bashir and other
officials in Khartoum and urged the U.N. Security Council to
suspend the ICC investigation into the president while peace
efforts continue.
 

"While we are trying to extinguish the fire here with our
troops, we don't understand that they chose that moment to put
more oil on the fire," Ping told reporters after meeting Bashir.
 

FIve years of war have brought humanitarian disaster to the
western Sudan region, and campaigners accuse the world of
failing to provide helicopters and other vital support for a
struggling peacekeeping mission there
 

Some 9,500 mainly African troops are already deployed in a
joint U.N.-AU Union peacekeeping effort (UNAMID), but U.N.
bureaucracy and Sudanese delays have prevented the force
reaching its planned complement of 26,000 troops and police.
 

The U.N. Security Council renewed the peacekeepers' mandate
for another year last Thursday
 

Ping said of the ICC: "You are dealing with people who died;
we are also dealing with people who are still alive.
 

"You should take into account not only the problem of
justice but also the problem of peace -- together would be very
useful."
 

Regional powers worry that any indictment would cause
problems for UNAMID and stall any peace process. But rights
groups call the ICC move a blow against impunity.
 

The ICC chief prosecutor last month asked the court for an
arrest warrant for Bashir for genocide, war crimes and crimes
against humanity, saying his state apparatus was directly
responsible for killing 35,000 people and indirectly for the
deaths of at least 100,000 more in Sudan's remote west.
 

The court's charter allows the Security Council to suspend
any investigation or warrant for up to 12 month.
 

Ping said the U.N. should do this "as soon as possible."
 

"We think that this decision should be examined clearly
because we are here in Africa and the troops who are here are
Africans, those who are dying are Africans," he said.
 

"The rest of the world should help us in understanding the
problems we are facing in the field."
 

Mostly non-Arab rebels took up arms in early 2003 accusing
central government of neglect. Khartoum mobilised mostly Arab
militia to quell the revolt but they now stand accused of a
widespread campaign of terror, rape and murder.
 
 

Date created : 2008-08-04

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