Al-Bashir defiant at Darfur rally

Sudanese president speaks in region where he is accused of carrying out war crimes.

Al-Bashir, right, threatened to kick foreign diplomats and aid workers out of Sudan [AFP]
Al-Bashir, right, threatened to kick foreign diplomats and aid workers out of Sudan [AFP]

The appearance is in line with al-Bashir’s defiant stance against the ICC arrest warrant issued last week.

“They speak as if they are the masters of the world, as if they determine the fate of all the peoples of the world” al-Bashir said at the rally, in reference to the ICC.

“We reject and refuse, and we will continue to reject and refuse,’ he said.

“We will never hand over any Sudanese citizen. We will not kneel to them.”

However, Mohamed al-Hassan Ibrahim, the deputy head of mission at the Sudanese Embassy in Qatar, told Al Jazeera that al-Bashir’s trip to Darfur was not a provocative act.

“Going to Darfur was already scheduled before the ICC decision. He is going to look at development projects and also he will be looking at a new road that is to be built from Darfur,” Ibrahim said.

‘Spies and thieves’

The ICC has made the unprecedented move of charging al-Bashir while he still holds office as head of state, on crimes of attacking civilians in the western Darfur region.

“Going to Darfur was already scheduled before the ICC decision. He is going to look at development projects and … a new road”

Mohamed al-Hazzan Ibrahim, deputy head of Sudan’s Qatari mission

Sudan expelled 13 of the largest foreign aid groups after the ICC’s warrant was issued. Three local organisations were also shut down.

Al-Bashir, danced in front of supporters wearing a traditional feathered head dress, outside the Friendship Hall in Khartoum, the capital, on Saturday.

There he defended his expulsion of more than a dozen foreign aid groups.

He said the aid workers are “spies” and “thieves”, and his supporters burnt in effigy an ICC official.

“No matter what they do, they will not sabotage peace,” al-Bashir said, in reference to Khartoum’s peace deal with the south of the country.

“We will protect the peace. In two years the southerners will decide – do they want one Sudan or two states?”

Humanitarian concerns

Now there are concerns for the lives of more than a million people as aid is reduced.

The role of the agencies was said to be impossible to fill, in a statement from UN agencies in Sudan on Saturday.

Moussa said the Arab League would support al-Bashir against any threats [AFP] 

The loss amounts to about 40 per cent of the humanitarian workforce in Darfur.

“While some eighty-five international NGOs [non-governmental organisations] operate in Darfur, without these organisations much of the aid operation literally comes to a halt,” the statement said.

Mutrif Siddig, the foreign ministry undersecretary, said that government agencies would cover those programmes lost by the expulsion of the aid agencies, which includes, Save the Children and Oxfam.

Tim McCormark, a former advisor to the UN International Criminal Tribunal and currently a professor of international humanitarian law at the University of Melbourne, told Al Jazeera that expelling the aid agencies will only make a humanitarian crisis in Darfur worse.

However, McCormark said that the ICC can not arrest al-Bashir unless he leaves Sudan.

“The arrest warrant is issued through Interpol, the international police agency. Any country that wants to co-operate with Interpol can arrest him,” he said.

Arab League support

Amr Moussa, the Arab League’s secretary general, met al-Bashir at the presidential palace on Saturday, to discuss the arrest warrant.

Earlier Moussa said the ICC decision provoked the “anger of the Arab League.”

He said it would support al-Bashir in facing threats against Sudan.

The ICC accuses al-Bashir of personally instructing his forces to annihilate three ethnic groups – the Fur, the Masalit and the Zaghawa – and says about 2.5 million people have been victimised by his actions in Darfur.

The UN says up to 300,000 people have died since the Darfur conflict began in 2003, when ethnic minority fighters took up arms against Sudan’s Arab-dominated administration for a greater share of resources and power.

Source: Al Jazeera, News Agencies


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