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Not to meddle in Sudan's peace process
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14:11, July 28, 2008

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Sudanese President Omar Hassan al-Bashir visited the worn-torn Darfur last Wednesday or on July 23,and this move of his was termed as a response to the International Criminal Court (ICC) in Hague. President al-Bashir's most recent visit to the Darfur region had been made in July 2007.

On July 14, the Hague-based ICC charged al-Bashir with the crimes of genocide, crimes against humanity and war crimes in the western Sudanese region of Darfur, and its Chief Prosecutor Lui Moreno-Ocampo formally requested an arrest warrant against him for alleged war crimes in Darfur region. The Sudanese government, however, reiterated that the ICC does not have any jurisdiction over a Sudanese citizen while rejecting the ICC indictment of the Sudanese leader and so it does not recognize the court's rulings. And some African nations are nevertheless full of anxious concerns and worries as they fear that the ICC move could interfere with the peace talks that have already started in Sudan.

As is know to all, the crisis of Darfur region in Sudan has not been created by any particular leader but resulted from the functioning of varied political, economic, cultural and environmental factors over a long period of time and, therefore, it cannot be resolved once and for all with simple methods. And the indictment of the ICC even adds greater uncertainties to this thorny issue.

The ICC indictment can possibly push the Sudanese government to the opposite side of the peace talks on the settlement of the Darfur issue, whereas the anti-government opposition force, which has not been included into the peace process, may take still tougher uncompromising stances, and the Darfur peace process at this critical juncture will possibly meet with even tougher and more stern tests. If the situation is out of control, the pernicious influence will jeopardize other African nations and menace the security situation in the whole region. Arab League (AL) Secretary General Amr Moussa said that the indictment will be turned into a crisis which "threatens to derail all the peace process in Sudan."

In an interview published last Monday or July 21 UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon also voiced concern over the possible indictment against al-Bashir, saying he was "very worried". The ICC "would have very serious consequences for peacekeeping operation including the political process in the Darfur region," the UN chief Ban Ki-moon told Le Gigaro in an interview.

The charges the ICC hurles against the Sudanese president has touched off violent, vehement reaction in the Arab world and the African region. Foreign ministers of the AL member counties held an emergency meeting in Cairo on July 19 and they acknowledged in the statement issued at the end of their meeting that the indictment against al-Bashir was"unfair" and "unacceptable". Two days later, the Peace and Security Council of the African Union (AU) also held an emergency meeting in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, and Nigerian Foreign Minister Ojo Maduekwe voiced the concern of the entire Africa over the issue to media reporters after the meeting. "If al-Bashir were removed from power and arrested, the whole place (Darfur region) could be turned into a huge graveyard, that could happen," Maduekwe warned.

Meanwhile, African nations requested the UN Security Council to consider suspending any possible moves based on ICC charges. The South African newspaper "the Star" on July 21 in a commentator's article quoted Kenyan Prime Minister Raila Odinga as saying that any attempt to prove someone "guilty or innocent" would not help resolve the Darfur issue at all.

As a matter of cause, the ICC move has given rise to doubts and questions among Africans. Some of these Africans have even queried the Hague-based court why it did not file indictment against any big power which brazenly launched wars (of aggression) against weak nations with heavy ensuing casualties among common people, and could any voice be heard from Hague when Western countries provoked disputes or wars in African for the sake of seeking their own interests with an ensuing loss of tens of thousands of lives on the continent, and why its incitements had often targeted at leaders of weak nations, particularly those of African nations?

With joint efforts of Sudan, the AU, the U.N. and the international community at large, peace talks between the Sudanese government and the anti-government force in the Darfur region has started, and the situation has begun to turn for the better with the issue on the the peaceful settlement of the Darfur region. So at this critical moment, what the international community should do is precisely to take pains to press ahead with the peaceful process instead of interfering with and impeding it.

By People's Daily Online

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