From: Berhane Habtemariam (Berhane.Habtemariam@gmx.de)
Date: Sun Mar 08 2009 - 15:37:45 EST
Sudan's Bashir threatens more expulsions in Darfur
Sun Mar 8, 2009 12:21pm GMT
By Khaled Abdelaziz
EL FASHER, Sudan (Reuters) - Sudan's President Omar Hassan al-Bashir
threatened on Sunday to expel diplomats and more aid groups, brandishing a
sword at a Darfur rally days after a Hague court issued a warrant for him
for war crimes.
Sudan has already closed 13 foreign and three local aid groups saying they
helped the International Criminal Court (ICC), which last week issued the
arrest warrant for Bashir over charges of crimes against humanity and war
crimes in Darfur.
"We expelled the organisations because they threatened the security of
Sudan," Bashir told a rally in El Fasher, capital of north Darfur.
"We will expel anyone who goes against Sudanese law, whether they are
voluntary organisations, diplomatic missions or security forces."
Bashir waved the sword as he rallied the crowd, after a speech in which he
insulted the court, poured scorn on the West and defended the decision to
close down the humanitarian organisations.
Bashir shouted out a list of atrocities he said had been carried out by the
West, from the mass killing of Native Americans during the foundation of the
United States, to the bombings of Hiroshima, Vietnam and Iraq.
"They killed millions of Indians ... Why are they not on trial," he said.
"The International Criminal Court and everyone who works for it are under my
feet," he added, a serious insult across the Arab world.
Thousands of people, many riding horses and camels, waved banners and flags
to greet Bashir, who rode into the town, waving from the back of an open
Some members of the crowd taunted ICC Chief Prosecutor Luis Moreno-Ocampo.
One man was seen leading a donkey with an Ocampo mask over its head, while
others carried a model of a dog with Ocampo's name written on the side.
Before the expulsions, the United Nations and aid groups were running the
world's largest humanitarian operation in Darfur where, international
experts say, almost six years of conflict have killed 200,000 people and
displaced more than 2.7 million people from their homes.
Bashir made his defiant visit to Darfur as officials said the expulsion
orders were "irreversible".
Foreign Ministry undersecretary Mutrif Siddig told the state Suna news
agency that the aid groups' cooperation with the ICC had been "proved by
Siddig was also quoted by the Sudanese Media Centre as saying government
agencies would cover the programmes left by the expelled aid groups, with
help from remaining foreign and local organisations.
The expelled groups, including Oxfam and Save the Children, have denied
helping the court and warned the closure of their programmes will have a
devastating impact on hundreds of thousands of Sudanese people in Darfur and
U.N. agencies in Sudan released a statement on Saturday saying it would be
impossible to fill the gap left by the expelled organisations which made up
around 40 percent of the humanitarian work force in Darfur.
"While some 85 international NGOs (non-governmental organisations) operate
in Darfur, without these organisations much of the aid operation literally
comes to a halt," the statement said.
The expulsions sparked a wave of criticism from the United Nations, Western
countries and leaders from the ruling party in Sudan's semi-autonomous
south, the Sudan People's Liberation Movement.
Aid officials have warned the expulsions will hit other turbulent areas of
northern Sudan, particularly in areas along the contested border with the
country's semi-autonomous south.
C Thomson Reuters 2009 All rights reserved
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