[dehai-news] (Reuters): Darfur rebel backs ICC despite loss of aid groups

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From: Berhane Habtemariam (Berhane.Habtemariam@gmx.de)
Date: Fri Mar 06 2009 - 09:38:27 EST

Darfur rebel backs ICC despite loss of aid groups

Fri Mar 6, 2009 1:56pm GMT


* Bashir arrest warrant seen deterring Darfur attacks

* Nur says expulsion of aid groups is disaster for Darfur

* Nur defends Israel visit

By Estelle Shirbon

PARIS, March 6 (Reuters) - The arrest warrant issued against the president
of Sudan offers new hope to the people of Darfur because it will dissuade
attacks, even though the immediate consequences are dire, a Darfur rebel
leader said on Friday.

The International Criminal Court issued the warrant on Wednesday for Omar
Hassan al-Bashir to face charges of war crimes in Darfur, and Khartoum
responded by expelling 13 foreign humanitarian organisations from Sudan.

Abdel Wahed Mohamed Ahmed al-Nur, founder of the rebel Sudan Liberation Army
(SLA), said the departure of the aid workers was a disaster for the people
of Darfur. But if there had been no warrant, attacks by government troops
and proxy militias would be an even graver danger.

"Darfur is in a Catch 22 situation," the Paris-based rebel leader, who says
fighters loyal to him control some parts of Darfur, told reporters.

"Either you let Bashir go so he can kill even more people with his Janjaweed
militias and the aid workers will bring relief to people who are dead ... or
you indict him," Nur said.

He argued that the warrant would send a signal to army commanders and
fighters from the Janjaweed, government-backed militias behind some of the
worst atrocities in Darfur.

Nur's SLA and another rebel group took up arms in 2003, accusing Khartoum of
neglecting the development of Darfur.

Sudan used government war planes as well as proxy militias on the ground to
crush the rebellion. It denies accusations from Washington that genocide
occurred during the counter-insurgency.

International experts say the conflict in Darfur has killed 200,000 people
and displaced 2.5 million.


Nur, who enjoys widespread support among residents of some of Darfur's
largest refugee camps, called on the international community to replace
ineffective peacekeepers with a stronger force and give them a powerful

"In Darfur there is no peace to be kept. My appeal is that we don't need
peacekeepers, we need peacemakers. We need an international force to stop
the genocide now," he said.

The UNAMID peacekeeping force, an operation run jointly by the African Union
and the United Nations, has 11,000 men in Darfur, a region the size of
France. It is well short of its promised 26,000 personnel and has been
unable to secure Darfur.

Nur reiterated his position that he would not take part in any peace talks
until there was security in Darfur.

Nur took part in lengthy talks with two other rebel factions and with the
Sudanese government in Nigeria in 2005-06. One of the other rebel groups
signed an accord with Khartoum, but he refused to sign. The accord turned
out to be a complete failure.

Now, he said, Nur wanted total "conflict suspension" before he would return
to the table.

He was asked at his news conference why he had paid a visit to Israel.
Critics say this was a propaganda gift to Khartoum, which has often accused
Darfur rebels of being part of a "Zionist conspiracy".

Nur said he went to Israel for two main reasons: to show support to 8,000
Sudanese people he said were living there, and to lead by example. Sudan was
a victim of racial and religious hatred, he said, and he wanted to overcome
such sentiments. (Editing by Giles Elgood)

C Thomson Reuters 2009 All rights reserved


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