After Bashir warrant, Sudan united in protest
Posted Thursday, March 5 2009 at 16:42
But, as a sign that it will no longer be business as usual, the Sudan has already ordered 10 international NGOs to leave northern Darfur, among them Oxfam, the International Rescue Committee, Doctors without Borders and Care International.
The rally held today was the first since the ruling by the court. Earlier as President Bashir presided over the opening of the massive Merawi dam in the north of the country, he told the court that it could ''eat the warrant'' as it was useless.
More protests are planned in Khartoum especially on Friday after midday prayers.
Today's was a rather unique as it was the first reaction by the president to a move that may mean that he may end up one day in the cells of the ICC should any country sympathetic to the court lay its hands on him.
Sudan is not signatory to the Rome Statute that created the court.
But, despite the US's declaration that it supports the warrant for Mr Bashir, Washington does not recognise the ICC and has even passed a law in Congress that protects its military personnel from any trial by the ICC.
The Service Members Protection Act (ASPA), passed by the US Congress in 2002 authorises the US president to raid the ICC cells to free any American officer arrested by the court.
At the same time, ASPA requires countries that seek US military aid to commit never to aspire to hand over US troops to the ICC.
In the indictment, the court said: "There are reasonable grounds to believe that Omar al-Bashir is criminally responsible under article 25 (3) (a) of the statute as an indirect perpetrator or as an indirect co-perpetartor for war crimes and crimes against humanity and that his arrest appears to be necessary under the Rome Statute.''
The ruling was based on a request by Chief prosecutor Luis Moreno Ocampo. The court accepted Mr Ocampo's claims that President al-Bashir: "Intentionally directed attacks against a civilian population and was engaged in pillage, murder, extermination and forcible transfer as a crime against humanity.''
Now that the warrant has been issued, Sudan needs the support of its allies if there was to be any suspension of the order, a request that can only be issued by the UN Security Council.
Already, the African Union at its summit in Addis Ababa last month, called for suspension of the ICC warrant for 12 months.
China, which is a close ally of Sudan today urged on the UN Security Council to "respect calls by the African Union, Arab League and Non-Aligned Movement ... and call on the International Criminal Court not to hear this case for the time being".
In a statement by Mr Qin Gang, the foreign ministry spokesman, China said it "expresses its regret and worry over the arrest warrant for the Sudan president.''
China added that it is ''opposed to any action that could interfere with the peaceful situation in Darfur and Sudan."
In Cairo, Egyptian Foreign Minister Ahmed Aboul Gheit called for the suspension of the warrant. The minister urged the UN Security Council to "hold an urgent and emergency meeting" to defer the warrant against President al-Bashir.
Sudan has already given clear signs that it will not be cowed by the ICC ruling and President al-Bashir will maintain his normal schedule. The president plans to attend an Arab summit set for this month in Qatar.
Mr Mutrif Siddiq, under-secretary of foreign affairs said: "We have received the invitation and accepted it," Mutrif Siddiq, under-secretary of foreign affairs.