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26/03/2009 | Sudan - Defiant Bashir holds talks with Mubarak

A.F.P.

Sudanese President Omar Hassan al-Bashir met his Egyptian counterpart Hosni Mubarak in Cairo yesterday on his second foreign visit since an international court ordered his arrest for war crimes in Darfur.

 

Foreign Minister Ahmed Aboul Gheit renewed Egyptian opposition to the International Criminal Court’s warrant for Bashir’s arrest after a few hours of talks between the two leaders.

“There is an Egyptian, Arab and African stance that does not accept the court’s manner in dealing with the Sudanese president,” Aboul Gheit told reporters after the meeting.
The court ordered Bashir’s arrest on five counts of crimes against humanity and two counts of war crimes over the government’s conduct of its six-year-old war against ethnic minority rebels in Darfur.

The ICC warrant, issued on March 4, was the first against a sitting head of state.

There was little chance of Bashir being arrested by Sudan’s northern neighbour, with both Egypt and the Arab League rejecting the warrant and saying it threatens peace talks in Sudan.

Egypt — like all Arab states except for Jordan — is not a party to the Rome treaty that created the ICC, the world’s first permanent war crimes tribunal.

The ICC does not have a police force and calls on signatory states to implement warrants. However, all UN member states are urged to co-operate with The Hague-based court.

Even the US, where the previous administration described the Darfur conflict as genocidal, said on Tuesday it was under “no legal obligation” to arrest Bashir as it was not a signatory to the Rome statute.

Bashir’s brief visit to key US ally Egypt came just two days after he made a short visit to diplomatically isolated Eritrea, once an arch-foe of Sudan. Doubts have been raised, however, over whether Bashir will attend an Arab summit in Doha at the end of the month, with Sudan’s highest religious authority, the Committee of Muslim Scholars, issuing a fatwa, or edict, urging him not to go.

The Egypt visit came amid a worsening humanitarian situation in Darfur after Khartoum ordered the expulsion of 13 international aid agencies in response to the arrest warrant.

The UN warned on Tuesday that it would appeal to international donors for extra funds following the expulsion of 3,142 aid agency staff.

UN humanitarian affairs co-ordinator Ameerah Haq warned in Khartoum that the situation in Darfur would deteriorate further over the coming weeks.

“By the beginning of May, as the hunger gap approaches, and unless the World Food Programme has found partners able to take on the mammoth distribution task, these people will not receive their rations,” she said. “Up to 650,000 currently do not have access to full health care,” she added.

Those aid groups which are still able to work in Darfur are also increasingly concerned about the security situation in the region, with a Sudanese working for a Canadian group shot dead at his home on Monday.

Gulf Times (Qatar)

 


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