Sudan’s Bashir hails ICC decision to halt Darfur probe
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Sudan’s President Omar al-Bashir claimed victory over the International Criminal Court on Saturday after the body announced it was shelving investigations into suspected war crimes in Darfur to shift resources to other "urgent cases".
Bashir was indicted by the ICC in 2009 over alleged war crimes in the arid western region, but he has so far avoided arrest by limiting his travels to countries where he knows he will not be detained by authorities.
The ICC's prosecutor Fatou Bensouda said on Friday she was halting war crime probes in Darfur, blaming the UN Security Council for failing to push for Bashir's arrest.
Bashir reacted defiantly to the news. “They wanted us to kneel before the International Criminal Court but the ICC raised its hands and admitted that it had failed,” he said in a speech in the capital of Khartoum on Saturday.
“The Sudanese people have defeated the ICC and have refused to hand over any Sudanese to the colonialist courts,” he added.
Darfur erupted into conflict in 2003 when ethnic insurgents rebelled against the Arab-dominated government in Khartoum, complaining they were being marginalised.
The UN says the unrest in Darfur has killed 300,000 people and displaced two million, while the government puts the death toll at around 10,000.
The UN Security Council remains deeply divided over the Darfur crisis, with veto-wielding Russia and China playing key allies of the Sudanese regime.
Aïcha el Basr, the former spokeswoman for the UNIMAD mission in Darfur has described it as the UN’s “biggest peacekeeping failure.”
Under pressure from Russia and China, the UN has not only failed to prevent genocide, but has downplayed the ongoing violence in order to prepare a discreet exit, according to El Basr.
She says the deliberate manipulation of facts is what led her to quit her job as UNAMID’s spokeswoman.
“I witnessed several cases of systematic, deliberate and repeated cover-ups of attacks on civilians by the government of Sudan – sometimes right in front of UN troops, and in some instances, the peacekeepers were looking on and taking photos,” she told FRANCE 24 in a recent interview.
The ICC’s Bensouda warned on Friday that the US Security Council’s inaction would only “embolden perpetrators to continue their brutality.”
(FRANCE 24 with AFP)
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