[dehai-news] (Reuters): Sudan weighs options to get war crime warrant quashed

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From: Berhane Habtemariam (Berhane.Habtemariam@gmx.de)
Date: Tue Mar 10 2009 - 06:56:24 EST

Sudan weighs options to get war crime warrant quashed

Tue Mar 10, 2009 6:23am EDT

By Andrew Heavens

KHARTOUM (Reuters) - <http://www.reuters.com/news/globalcoverage/sudan>
Sudan said on Tuesday it was looking at how to get an international Darfur
war crimes arrest warrant against its president either quashed or suspended,
the first sign it may engage over the issue.

Any such move from the government appears to clash with a series of
increasingly defiant statements from President Omar Hassan al-Bashir pouring
scorn on the West and refusing to deal with the International Criminal

International experts say at least 200,000 people have been killed in
Darfur, a mainly desert region in western
<http://www.reuters.com/news/globalcoverage/sudan> Sudan, while Khartoum
says 10,000 have died. The conflict began when mostly non-Arab rebels took
up arms against the government in 2003.

Foreign ministry spokesman Ali Al-Sadig told Reuters officials may now refer
the warrant, issued last week, to the International Court of Justice and ask
allies to push for a postponement of the case in the U.N. Security Council.

"There are some ideas being discussed. Maybe in the coming three or four
days, things might come out very clearly," Al-Sadig told Reuters.

He said officials were holding talks with China, Russia and Libya, all
members of the U.N. Security Council who have spoken out against the

Some analysts say the warrant could spark more violence in Darfur, where
peacekeepers have been caught in the middle of the conflict.

The International Court of Justice is a separate institution from the
International Criminal Court, even though both are based in The Hague. One
of its main jobs is to settle legal disputes given to it by United Nations
member states.

Russia and China have advised
<http://www.reuters.com/news/globalcoverage/sudan> Sudan that Western
countries which stood firm against Khartoum in the build up to the arrest
warrant might be open to negotiation after the ICC's decision was made, he

"We are not going to campaign for an Article 16," Al-Sadig added, referring
to the part of the ICC's statute that gives the Security Council the power
to delay cases. "But if other people campaign on our behalf, that would be a
different thing."

Diplomats told Reuters last week Britain, France and the United States, the
three Western permanent members of the Security Council, might eventually be
persuaded to support a deferral if there was a significant improvement on
the ground in Darfur and a return to serious peace talks.

 <http://www.reuters.com/news/globalcoverage/sudan> Sudan's government may
be feeling increasingly isolated following what some analysts have seen as
lukewarm expressions of support from Middle Eastern countries.

The decision by Khartoum to shut down 13 foreign and three local aid groups,
accusing them of cooperating with the global court, sparked an international
wave of protest.

Bashir defended his expulsion of the aid groups as he rallied supporters in
Darfur on Sunday and government officials have said the decision is

On Tuesday the U.S. embassy authorized the voluntary evacuation of
non-essential staff. An official said the decision was partly a diplomatic
move in reaction to <http://www.reuters.com/news/globalcoverage/sudan>
Sudan's expulsion of aid groups.

(Editing by Matthew Jones)

(For full Reuters Africa coverage and to have your say on the top issues,
visit: http:/africa.reuters.com/ )


C Thomson Reuters 2009 All rights reserved



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