- Darfur - ICC - Omar al-Bashir - Sudan
The International Criminal Court (ICC) will announce next week whether it would seek the arrest of Sudan's President Omar al-Bashir for war crimes in Darfur, it said on Monday.
A pre-trial chamber of judges said it "would issue on Wednesday, March 4, its decision concerning the prosecution application" for a warrant for Bashir, the court said.
The leader of Darfur's strongest rebel group said in comments published Tuesday that his forces would refocus efforts to topple al-Bashir if the International Criminal Court issues a warrant for his arrest.
Speaking to The Times from Chad's capital N'Djamena, Justice and Equality Movement (JEM) leader Khalil Ibrahim said that "when this warrant comes it is, for us, the end of Bashir's legitimacy to be president of Sudan."
"We will work hard to bring him down ... If he doesn't cooperate with the ICC, the war will intensify."
ICC chief prosecutor Luis Moreno-Ocampo asked the court last July for a warrant for Bashir for genocide, war crimes, and crimes against humanity allegedly committed in Sudan's war-torn western region.
The African Union said earlier this month it would lobby for a one-year suspension of the case, saying a trial at the ICC could threaten Sudan's peace process.
The 53-member organisation also said that African leaders appeared to be the sole targets of the international court.
If the warrant is granted, Bashir would become the first sitting head of state to be accused before the ICC.
Moreno-Ocampo has accused Bashir of having "personally instructed" his forces to annihilate three ethnic groups -- the Fur, Masalit and Zaghawa, engaged in a rebellion in Darfur.
Khartoum has denied all the allegations against Bashir, and has refused to cooperate with the ICC, which is based in The Hague.
The UN says up to 300,000 people have died since the conflict broke out in 2003. The Sudanese government puts the death toll at 10,000.