- The International court has today issued a warrant of arrest for Sudanese President Omar Al-Bashir for war crimes and crimes against humanity, sparking new security fears in the already war troubled African state.
President Al Bashir is the first sitting head of state to be indicted by the court since its establishment in 2002.
The International Criminal Court spokeswoman, Laurence Blairon, said Mr Al-Bashir is suspected masquerading and masterminding murder, raping and torture of the civilian population.
She said the three judge panel has however said there was insufficient evidence to support the genocide charges. However, the prosecutor still have room to reinstitute the charge once there is enough evidence to support their charge.
“He is suspected of being criminally responsible for intentionally directing attacks against an important part of the civilian population of Darfur, Sudan, murdering, exterminating, raping, torturing and forcibly transferring large numbers of civilians, and pillaging their property," she added.
But President Al Bashir has since dismissed the allegations, while the Khartoum government had stated it did not recognnise the ICC as it was signatory to its establishment.
Sudanese officials have been quoted as saying the ICC confirmation was a sign that the western commuhity does not want Sudan to become stable.
"The court is only one mechanism of neo-colonialist policy used by the West against free and independent countries," a presidential aide was quoted to have told the media after the announcement of the bad news on Sudan's president.
For the human rights groups, the arrest warrant for al-Bashir has been seen as a milestone for the world’s first permanent war crimes tribunal, which was established in 2002 and has never before ordered the arrest of a sitting head of state.
The Crisis Group has said the indictment also ushers an opportunity for the transformation of Sudan.
“For the millions of Darfuri victims, this landmark decision provides independent legal recognition of the massive crimes committed against them, and confirms that there are reasonable grounds to believe that Bashir is personally criminally responsible”, said Crisis Group Deputy President Nick Grono. “The international community should affirm its support for the Court and insist that Sudan and other countries cooperate with it as required by the UN Security Council”.
Crisis Group’s statement further warned Khartoum of the risks of responding by lashing out against its own citizens in retaliation by declaring a state of emergency or clamping down on internal political opposition.
The group said Sudan’s international allies have a strong interest in the country’s stability, and they must pressure the regime to react with restraint, further urging that the ICC prosecutor should make it clear that anyone responsible for further atrocities will be held accountable.
"Ideally, Bashir would resign and submit to the Court, but this is unlikely. Yet the status quo is unsustainable in the long term," said the Crisis Group, also adding that to preserve its economic interests and guarantee its survival, the ruling Sudanese elite (NCP) should change both its policies and leadership.
The Darfur conflict started in 2003 when ethnic minority rebels took up arms against the Arab-dominated Khartoum government complaining of discrimination and neglect in the Darfur region.
Meanwhile, medical aid organisation Doctors Without Borders (MSF) said it was pulling staff out of Darfur after the Sudanese government ordered them to leave the troubled region.
Khartoum said it was unable to ensure the safety of the MSF teams given the imminent decision by the ICC to indict President Al-Beshir.
The six year conflict in Sudan has killed more than 300,000 people with more others displaced by the war.
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