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Yearender: Khartoum struggles hard to get rid of crisis with ICC court
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09:12, December 15, 2008

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The Sudanese government led by President Omer al-Bashir struggled hard in the year 2008 to get rid of a nightmare caused by an indictment of the International Criminal Courts (ICC).

In the last week of November on the sidelines of an UN development conference in Doha, Sudan's President Omer al-Bashir met with his French counterpart Nicolas Sarkozy and some other foreign heads of state, which were seen as Khartoum's latest diplomatic efforts to lobby its African allies, Arab brothers as well as world powers to defer the ICC indictment against the Sudanese president.

On July 14, ICC Prosecutor Luis Moreno-Ocampo listed 10 charges against al-Bashir for responsibilities for a so-called "genocide and crimes against humanity" in the western Sudanese region of Darfur, and demanded a warrant of arrest, the first of its kind against an incumbent head of state.

The Sudanese government announced its immediate refusal of the accusation during an emergency meeting of the council of ministers, which was backed by the parliament in its urgent meeting on July 16.

Afterwards, al-Bashir issued a presidential decree establishing a special committee headed by First Vice President Salva Kiir Mayardit to handle the crisis with the ICC.

By working out a road-map plan to carry out the presidential decree and studying the legal aspects of the ICC accusations against al-Bashir, the main aim of the committee was to find out a formula of understanding with the international society to prevent further negative impacts of the ICC moves on the implementation of the 2005 peace agreement between northern and southern Sudan.

As the first move to confront the ICC, Sudan has made efforts to doubt the ICC jurisdiction on the basis that the sovereign country has not endorsed the documents on the establishment of the courts so the ICC had not legitimate right to prosecute any Sudanese citizen.

Khartoum also defended that it had set up courts to put on trial those involved in the violations in Darfur, so there is no need for an interference of the ICC.

The capital Khartoum and other states in the country have frequently witnessed daily demonstrations denouncing the ICC moves, as the humanitarian relief organizations operating in Sudan took security measures in fear of escalation of violence.

On the other hand, the Sudanese government also showed a serious desire for realizing the peace in Darfur, warning that any legal steps taken by the ICC against al-Bashir could jeopardize the peace process and put the 10,000-strong international peacekeeping forces in Darfur in danger.

In this framework, the Sudanese president paid a rare visit in Darfur on July 23, where he announced an initiative to resolve the Darfur issue.

On Oct. 10, a month-long Forum of the Sudanese People's Initiative was inaugurated in Khartoum by President al-Bashir, who announced at the opening ceremony an immediate and unconditional ceasefire with the armed rebel movements in Darfur and an agreement to negotiate with the rebels under the Qatar-led Arab and African mediations.

The Sudanese government stance won a full support of the Arab League, which termed the ICC move as "extremely dangerous."

Arab foreign ministers held an urgent meeting in Cairo on July 29, calling for a freeze of the ICC measures against the Sudanese president and research of a final solution to the Darfur conflict, only one week after AL Secretary General Amr Moussa visited Khartoum to talks with Sudanese leaders on the impacts of the ICC crisis.

The position of the African Union was basically identical with the Arab League, warning of possible serious and negative consequences of the ICC moves against the Sudanese president.

However, the United States, France and Britain have shown their support for the ICC, while some of the Western powers have preferred to deferring the indictment.

Local analysts believed that the ICC crisis was not only one of the challenges facing Khartoum, as time is near for Sudan to hold its first general elections in 2009.

Al-Bashir, who has never favored by the western countries since he took power in 1989 in the largest African country through a military coup supported by Islamists, has to continue his struggle on the way of maintaining the power, said the analysts.

Source: Xinhua

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