From: Berhane Habtemariam (Berhane.Habtemariam@gmx.de)
Date: Tue Jan 13 2009 - 14:35:14 EST
Turabi tells Bashir to surrender to court
KHARTOUM: An influential opposition leader yesterday called on Sudan's
president to hand himself over to the International Criminal Court, saying
he should take responsibility for war crimes in Darfur.
The call from Islamist leader Hassan al-Turabi was the first significant
show of dissent from within Sudan's political system over possible war
crimes charges against President Omar Hassan al-Bashir. Politicians have
previously been united in opposing them.
The global court's chief prosecutor asked judges in July to issue an arrest
warrant against Bashir, accusing him of genocide and other war crimes. The
judges are expected to decide within weeks whether Bashir has a case to
Turabi told reporters Bashir should surrender himself to save Sudan from
sanctions and political turmoil that would follow if the president defied
the court and carried on ruling as a wanted man.
"There is no judicial justice in this country ... As far as we are concerned
there is no access to justice except through the international court,"
Turabi said in the Khartoum headquarters of his opposition Popular Congress
"It is up to the government to hand him over or for him personally to go for
the sake of his country, to protect his country against any further
sanctions against the government."
Turabi, once close to Osama bin Laden, has been a central figure for decades
and repeatedly detained and imprisoned. He was the spiritual mentor behind
Bashir's government when it took power in a 1989 coup, but the men later
Turabi said Sudan's many insurgent groups would step up attacks and
destabilise the country if Bashir stayed in power without clearing his name.
Bashir and leading members of his dominant National Congress Party have
repeatedly said they will not deal with the global court, dismissing it as
part of a Western conspiracy.
Most Sudanese opposition parties publicly rallied round Bashir after the
ICC's chief prosecutor, Luis Moreno-Ocampo, accused the president of
orchestrating genocide and other war crimes in Darfur.
Turabi said yesterday Bashir should take personal responsibility for
atrocities since 2003 in Sudan's west.
"In politics, whatever happens below a minister, for example, he will have
to resign for it and assume responsibility," Turabi said. "He should assume
responsibility for whatever is happening in Darfur - displacement, the
burning of all the villages, systematic rapes."
Turabi said he did not think Khartoum deliberately set out to launch
genocide - as Washington and some activists say.
"But they recruited nomadic Arabs - the Janjaweed... and these people
behaved in that manner. When they burned a village they just burned all the
boys, killed all the males ... That was systematic. It was not just one case
The influential opposition leader added he did not expect Bashir to take his
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