[dehai-news] (Reuters): Sudan says indicting president would risk bloodshed

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From: Berhane Habtemariam (Berhane.Habtemariam@gmx.de)
Date: Mon Jan 05 2009 - 18:36:49 EST

Sudan says indicting president would risk bloodshed

Mon Jan 5, 2009 12:36pm EST


By Andrew Heavens

KHARTOUM, Jan 5 (Reuters) - Sudan's government accused Darfur rebels on
Monday of planning to launch attacks if President Omar Hassan al-Bashir is
indicted for war crimes and said that would bring a new round of bloodshed.

Sudan has been trying to head off a possible International Criminal Court
arrest warrant against Bashir after the court's prosecutor accused the
president of genocide in Darfur, where rebels have been fighting Khartoum's
rule since 2003.

Foreign ministry undersecretary Mutrif Siddiq said rebels were building up
forces just over the border in neighbouring Chad, ready for an attack on
Sudanese cities and oil fields in South Kordofan, a region neighbouring

The international court's judges are expected to decide later this month on
whether to issue a warrant against Bashir.

"If this happens it is going to have a very negative impact," Siddiq told
Reuters and the BBC. "The rebellion in Darfur will escalate. (The rebels)
will feel jubilant... They will say they are fighting a legitimate cause
against a criminal government and a criminal president."

Nobody was immediately available for comment from the rebel Justice and
Equality Movement but leaders have repeatedly said they were preparing to
attack "anytime, anywhere" in Sudan.

Siddiq said Sudan had solid information from inside Chad on the preparations
for a possible attack by the rebel faction, which was driven back last May
after an assault that reached the gates of Khartoum.

"We are preparing for such a step -- we will never allow it to happen.
Definitely it will cost us lives and some publicity," said Siddiq, referring
to possible further damage to Sudan's reputation abroad.

In July, the international court's chief prosecutor Luis Moreno-Ocampo
accused Bashir of orchestrating genocide and other war crimes in Darfur.
Sudan has rejected the accusations.

Siddiq said the government also suspected "political forces" in Khartoum
could create instability if Bashir is indicted, adding that it might also
fuel anti-western sentiment. He promised to warn westerners if there was any

"If at any moment we feel we are not ready or able to protect them we will
tell them to leave peacefully," he said, accusing western countries of using
the court case decision to try to put pressure on Sudan.

Arab and African countries want any indictment for Bashir put on hold,
believing it would damage hopes of peace in Sudan, but western states with
permanent seats on the U.N. Security Council have the power to veto any

International experts say 200,000 have died since rebels took up arms
against Sudan's government in 2003 accusing it of neglect. Khartoum puts the
death count at 10,000.


C Thomson Reuters 2009 All rights reserved



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