From: Berhane Habtemariam (Berhane.Habtemariam@gmx.de)
Date: Sun Mar 08 2009 - 06:28:33 EST
Al-Bashir speaks at Darfur rally
Sunday, March 08, 2009
Omar al-Bashir, Sudan's president, has addressed a rally in Darfur, the
region in which the International Criminal Court (ICC) has accused him of
carrying out war crimes.
Thousands of people gave al-Bashir a rapturous welcome on his arrival in the
city of Al Fasher, the state capital of north Darfur, on Sunday.
Al-Bashir sent "a message" to foreign diplomats, aid workers and
peacekeepers working in the country.
"They have to respect the rule of the country. If anyone goes further than
the rule of the country, we will kick them out directly," he said.
The appearance is in line with al-Bashir's defiant stance against the ICC
arrest warrant issued last week.
"They speak as if they are the masters of the world, as if they determine
the fate of all the peoples of the world" al-Bashir said at the rally, in
reference to the ICC.
"We reject and refuse, and we will continue to reject and refuse,' he said.
"We will never hand over any Sudanese citizen. We will not kneel to them."
However, Mohamed al-Hassan Ibrahim, the deputy head of mission at the
Sudanese Embassy in Qatar, told Al Jazeera that al-Bashir's trip to Darfur
was not a provocative act.
"Going to Darfur was already scheduled before the ICC decision. He is going
to look at development projects and also he will be looking at a new road
that is to be built from Darfur," Ibrahim said.
'Spies and thieves'
The ICC has made the unprecedented move of charging al-Bashir while he still
holds office as head of state, on crimes of attacking civilians in the
western Darfur region.
Sudan expelled 13 of the largest foreign aid groups after the ICC's warrant
was issued. Three local organisations were also shut down.
Al-Bashir, danced in front of supporters wearing a traditional feathered
head dress, outside the Friendship Hall in Khartoum, the capital, on
There he defended his expulsion of more than a dozen foreign aid groups.
He said the aid workers are "spies" and "thieves", and his supporters burnt
in effigy an ICC official.
"No matter what they do, they will not sabotage peace," al-Bashir said, in
reference to Khartoum's peace deal with the south of the country.
"We will protect the peace. In two years the southerners will decide - do
they want one Sudan or two states?"
Now there are concerns for the lives of more than a million people as aid is
The role of the agencies was said to be impossible to fill, in a statement
from UN agencies in Sudan on Saturday.
The loss amounts to about 40 per cent of the humanitarian workforce in
"While some eighty-five international NGOs [non-governmental organisations]
operate in Darfur, without these organisations much of the aid operation
literally comes to a halt," the statement said.
Mutrif Siddig, the foreign ministry undersecretary, said that government
agencies would cover those programmes lost by the expulsion of the aid
agencies, which includes, Save the Children and Oxfam.
Tim McCormark, a former advisor to the UN International Criminal Tribunal
and currently a professor of international humanitarian law at the
University of Melbourne, told Al Jazeera that expelling the aid agencies
will only make a humanitarian crisis in Darfur worse.
However, McCormark said that the ICC can not arrest al Bashir unless he
"The arrest warrant is issued through Interpol, the international police
agency. Any country that wants to cooperate with Interpol can arrest him,"
Arab League support
Amr Moussa, the Arab League's secretary general, met al-Bashir at the
presidential palace on Saturday, to discuss the arrest warrant.
Earlier Moussa said the ICC decision provoked the "anger of the Arab
He said it would support al-Bashir in facing threats against Sudan.
The ICC accuses al-Bashir of personally instructing his forces to annihilate
three ethnic groups - the Fur, the Masalit and the Zaghawa - and says about
2.5 million people have been victimised by his actions in Darfur.
The UN says up to 300,000 people have died since the Darfur conflict began
in 2003, when ethnic minority fighters took up arms against Sudan's
Arab-dominated administration for a greater share of resources and power.
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