Sudan warns ICC indictment could ruin Darfur peace

2008-07-15 13:48:11 GMT       2008-07-15 21:48:11 (Beijing Time)       xinhuanet

NAIROBI, July 15 (Xinhua) -- The Sudanese government warned Tuesday that UN peacekeeping work in its strife-torn region of Darfur region would suffer if President Omar al-Bashir were to be indicted for war crimes and arrested by the International Criminal Court (ICC).

Addressing a news conference in Nairobi, Sudanese ambassador to Kenya Majok Guangdong said the evidence by the ICC was false and indicated Sudan could try to halt the court's work through its allies.

"The decision will stall the political process and will not give an opportunity for success to the new AU/UN special envoy for peace in Darfur," Guangdong told journalists in Nairobi.

He said the Sudanese government will go ahead with implementing its joint plans and programs with the UN/AU with regard to the deployment of the hybrid forces and making success the political process in Darfur.

Guangdong said the country did not recognize the jurisdiction of the ICC and would rally support among allies in an attempt to block proceedings, warning that if the ICC pursued the case it could jeopardize relations between Sudan and the UN.

"Sudan is not party to the ICC and did not sign or ratify the Rome Statue, which created the Court, and hence it is not under the jurisdiction of the court," the ambassador told journalists in Nairobi.

"The Sudanese Judiciary is capable and willing to address the situation in Darfur according to the National Investigation Commission on Darfur and the Special Courts that were set up in this regard," he said.

ICC prosecutor Luis Moreno-Ocampo on Monday requested the court at The Hague issue an arrest warrant for President al-Bashir, citing evidence linking the leader to acts of genocide, crimes against humanity and war crimes.

"The decision will have a destructive effect on the humanitarian, political and security situation in Darfur. It encourages the rebel movements to continue and intensify their military operations against the government," Guangdong said.

The envoy's remarks came as pro-government rally was due to take place in Khartoum soon and the UN is to begin removing some staff from Darfur.

The United Nations said the decision to pull back some nonessential staff came after recent violence and as a precaution after the genocide accusation.

Guangdong said the ICC prosecutor has become a "political tool rather than an independent and professional legal person who does not respect legal customs and professionalism".

"International justice is directed only against African and third world countries while big powers are protected by their veto rights," he said.

Sudan is not a party to the 1998 Rome Statute that established the ICC and is not bound to its legal process.

More than 100 countries have signed the statute and most of them have ratified the convention that governs the court at Hague.The United States is also not a party of the ICC.

The ICC is considered independent of the United Nations because it was not created and funded by it. But the UN Security Council can refer cases of serious crimes to the ICC and has done so for the ethnic killing in Darfur.

The ICC has jurisdiction over genocide, crimes against humanity and war crimes.

The ambassador said President al-Bashir has been discussing the peace process in Darfur with UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon, and as recently as last Saturday the two men talked about the possibility of action against the Sudanese leader.

Ban said in a statement on Monday that he respected Moreno-Ocampo's decision to seek an arrest warrant because the ICC is an independent court.

Ban called on the Sudanese government to cooperate with the joint UN-African Union peacekeeping operation in Sudan's Darfur region, which has been the target of attacks by armed militiamen allegedly with Khartoum's backing.

The joint UN-African Union peacekeeping operation in Darfur, known as UNAMID, said at its headquarters in El Fasher, in northern Darfur, that it intends to maintain its work of monitoring the peace process in the region despite Moreno-Ocampo'smove.

But UNAMID said it planned to relocate nonessential staff "due to the recent deteriorating security situation across Darfur".

"We are working on all those issues in our mandate and we will continue to work on them," said UNAMID commander, Gen. Martin Luther Agwai.

He said security threats against the force will not halt its patrols and protection of UN personnel.

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