From: Berhane Habtemariam (Berhane.Habtemariam@gmx.de)
Date: Tue Mar 03 2009 - 16:54:28 EST
Sudan president tells court to "eat" expected warrant
Tue Mar 3, 2009 1:59pm GMT
By Aziz El-Kaissouni
KHARTOUM (Reuters) - Sudan's President Omar Hassan al-Bashir was defiant
towards the International Criminal Court on Tuesday, telling it to "eat" an
expected warrant for his arrest for alleged war crimes in Darfur.
"They will issue their decision tomorrow ... this coming decision, they can
prepare right now: they can eat it (the warrant)," Bashir told a crowd of
cheering supporters who lit and stamped on an effigy of ICC prosecutor Luis
Bashir's comments were made at the opening of a hydroelectric dam in Merowe,
northern Sudan, a day before ICC judges were due to respond to a request by
Ocampo for an arrest warrant for Bashir on charges of war crimes in the
Darfur region of western Sundan.
The opening of the dam took place in a carnival atmosphere with confetti and
music, and Bashir sought to dismiss the importance of the Hague-based
"They want us preoccupied with their issues, their accusations ... we want
to say to people, don't be too concerned with these decisions. We want the
answer," Bashir said.
The answer, Bashir said, is Sudanese development, and he announced a raft of
projects in the works, including more dams, highways and more cultivation of
"This is a proud people, a people that do not accept insults, do not accept
humiliation," Bashir said. Challenges like the ICC are "added motivation for
The opening of the dam, billed by Bashir as "the beginning of the end of
poverty in Sudan," was attended by dignitaries from Arab states, as well as
Chinese officials, and executives from European and Chinese companies
involved in the project.
TENSIONS OVER WARRANT
Bashir used the occasion to announce cuts in electricity prices, for the
poor and for industry and agriculture, ranging between 25-30 percent.
Tensions have risen in Sudan as it awaits the decision by the ICC, which
China, the African Union and the Arab League have warned could destabilise
the region, worsen the Darfur conflict and threaten an already troubled
peace deal between north Sudan and the semi-autonomous south.
Some Western embassies have warned their citizens of the potential for
violent protests if Bashir is charged.
Sudanese officials have sought to reassure foreign missions that while there
would be "popular expressions" if the ICC issued a warrant, authorities
would not allow diplomats, their missions or foreigners to be targeted.
According to international experts, the Darfur conflict has killed 200,000
people and uprooted 2.7 million since 2003, when mostly non-Arab rebels took
up arms against the government, demanding better representation and regional
Khartoum mobilized mostly Arab militias to crush the revolt.
C Thomson Reuters 2009 All rights reserved
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