From: Berhane Habtemariam (Berhane.Habtemariam@gmx.de)
Date: Thu Mar 05 2009 - 06:02:33 EST
Sudan's president: Arrest warrant a conspiracy
By SARAH EL DEEB, Associated Press Writer Sarah El Deeb, Associated Press
KHARTOUM, Sudan - Sudanese President Omar al-Bashir said Thursday an
international tribunal's decision to seek his arrest on war crimes charges
is a conspiracy aimed at destabilizing the country and disrupting peace
efforts in Darfur.
Speaking for the first time since he became wanted, al-Bashir told a Cabinet
meeting that the court, the United Nations and international organizations
operating in Sudan were "tools of the new colonialism" meant to bring Sudan
and its resources under control.
"This is an attempt to get at Sudan," he said.
Al-Bashir's government retaliated immediately after the warrant was issued
Wednesday, ordering the expulsion of 10 leading international humanitarian
organizations from Darfur, including Oxfam, CARE and Save the Children.
U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon called it "a serious setback to
lifesaving operations in Darfur." Aid groups protested, saying they had no
connection to the court and that their absence could lead to a crisis for
more than 2 million war-weary Sudanese who need such basics as shelter, food
and clean water.
Al-Bashir said the organizations aimed to disrupt peace efforts in Darfur
and that every time his country reaches for a peace deal to end the six-year
conflict it is hit with a new international decision against it.
"We in Sudan have always been a target of the U.N. and these organizations
because we have said, 'No,'" al-Bashir said. "We said the resources of Sudan
should go to the people of Sudan."
The arrest warrant by the Netherlands-based International Criminal Court is
the tribunal's first against a sitting head of state. U.N. officials said
their staff will continue to deal with al-Bashir in Sudan because he remains
the president of the country.
Up to 300,000 people have died and 2.7 million have fled their homes in the
region since the war in Darfur began in 2003, when rebel ethnic African
groups, complaining of discrimination and neglect, took up arms against the
Arab-dominated government in Khartoum.
In a warning against anyone who tries to help the ICC arrest him, al-Bashir
said his government will be firm.
"We will act as a responsible government," he said. "But we will be
responsible and firm with anyone who tries to get at the stability, security
in the country or whoever uses their position and presence in Sudan to
violate the law, the stability and security."
He said his government has ordered the expulsion of 10 organizations working
in Darfur because they violated the law.
The president later appeared before a public rally organized outside the
Republican Palace attended by thousands of supporters. He swayed and danced
with the crowd.
----[This List to be used for Eritrea Related News Only]----