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July 2008 - Posts

Vice President Taha praises Egypt's supporting stances to Sudan

  Alexandria, July 30 (SUNA) - Vice President of the Republic Ali Osman Mohamed Taha has praised Egypt's supporting stances to Sudan at the regional and international forums, especially its stance towards the allegations of the prosecutor of the International Criminal Court against Sudan. Addressing the meeting of the Higher Joint Sudanese-Egyptian Committee at the premises of the Egyptian Council of Ministers in Alexandria Wednesday, Taha said Egypt has continued supporting the peace process in Sudan through its participation in the hybrid operation in Darfur and its concern with the issues of national unity besides its contribution to the efforts of reconstruction and development in southern Sudan and the humanitarian aid in Darfur. The Vice President stressed the importance of convening of the sixth session of the Higher Joint Committee under the current regional and international circumstances, referring to the importance of boosting cooperation between the two countries and completing the joint strategic projects. Taha underscored the importance of giving priority to the joint investment projects especially in the agricultural field and meat production. He stressed the importance of the role of businessmen in the two countries in boosting joint cooperation. The Vice President affirmed the importance of implementation of the four freedoms agreement to boost integration and joint cooperation in all fields. The Egyptian Prime Minister, Dr. Ahmed Nadhief, on his part, lauded the distinguished strategic relations linking the two countries, stressing the unswerving Egyptian policy towards Sudan and its security and unity. The Egyptian Prime Minister reiterated Egypt's rejection to the allegations of the prosecutor of the international Criminal Court against Sudan. He affirmed that the Comprehensive Peace Agreement is considered as the backbone for peace and development in Sudan. He further affirmed keenness of Egypt on increasing its investments in Sudan and establishment of strategic projects in the fields of food security and roads, affirming his country's readiness to maintain relations of distinguished economic partnership with Sudan. BT/BT

Nigerian President expresses support to Sudan's stance rejecting ICC prosecutor's allegations

  Abuja, July 30 (SUNA)- Nigerian President Umaru Yar'Adua has expressed his support to Sudan's stance rejecting the allegations of the prosecutor of the International Criminal Court (ICC), affirming his country's readiness to contribute to boosting the peace efforts in Darfur. This came in a press statement made by Presidential Advisor Bona Malwal following his meeting with the Nigerian President in the Presidential Villa in Abuja Tuesday, where he handed over to him a message from President of the Republic Field Marshal Omer Al-Bashir dealing with developments in Sudan following the allegations of ICC prosecutor against Sudan. Meanwhile, the Presidential Adviser met at the Sudanese Embassy in Abuja with Nigerian journalists, where he gave a briefing on the objectives of his visit and the dimensions of the allegations of the ICC against Sudan, describing the ICC as a tool for neocolonialism. BT/BT

Handing over of children who participated in the attack on Omdurman

  Khartoum, July 30 (SUNA) - The high committee on dealing with the issue of the children who participated in the attack on Omdurman town has announced that handing over of the children to their families will be completed within two weeks in implementation of the decree of the President of the Republic declaring amnesty to them during his recent visit to Darfur states. Commissioner General of Humanitarian Aid and head of the committee Dr. Hasabou Mohamed Abdel-Rahman said in a press briefing at the social rehabilitation centre at Al-Gaili that the released children would be handed over to their families through offices in the states and localities from which they had come, while the Chadian children would be handed over to the International Committee of the Red Cross. He pointed out that the committee has set an integrated plan for the handing over of the children, stressing the keenness of the committee on their integration with their families. He explained that the committee will follow up the integration of the children, who number 93, in full coordination with the International Committee of the Red Cross in accordance with the international humanitarian law. BT/BT

Letters: Sudan's president is wrongly accused
Comments (3)

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I am a Sudanese woman currently residing in Rochester. I keep informed by the television and Internet media as to news about my home country of Sudan.

Just last week I followed the current details of an arrest warrant being requested for Sudan's president, Omar Hassan al-Bashir.

The prosecutor from the International Criminal Court announced charges of genocide, crimes against humanity and war crimes. I find the entire framework of the prosecutor's case to be based on false accusations set forth to incriminate Omar Hassan al-Bashir.

I make this appeal to reverse the arrest proceedings. There will be detrimental effects for Sudan, leading to the same historical events as in Iraq. Why does President Bush not take any actions to redirect the activities going on in Darfur?

President Omar Hassan al-Bashir is a strong leader for the country of Sudan. I believe he needs to remain the executive in charge so that the government structure remains strong.

I firmly disagree with International Criminal Court's arguments to incriminate the Sudanese president. Please help motivate the court to dismiss the arresting proceedings against Omar Hassan al-Bashir.

Sara Fatain

Rochester

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Keep it civil. Libelous, inflammatory and profane comments are prohibited. If you wouldn't say it to Grandma, don't say it here.

stalker
Rochester, MN

Posted on 7/26/2008 at 9:05:14 AM

 

I respectfully disagree. Al-Bashir has been responsible for one of the worst cases of genocide in recent history. The systematic extermination that has been perpetuated on the people of Darfur most certainly should be prosecuted. He deserves to pay for the untold suffering he has unleashed.

You want to know why shrub has not intervened in Darfur? Plain and simple - no oil. 

 

stalker
Rochester, MN

Posted on 7/26/2008 at 9:50:16 AM

 

See Mike Peters’ editorial cartoon from today. I’d say it’s two down, one to go. 

 

Moliere
Houston, Tx

Posted on 7/26/2008 at 10:00:19 AM

 

I am an American living in Sudan. I think there are several flaws in Ms. Sara’s comment above besides the fact that she offers no evidence to her claim of Bashir’s innocence. First of all, George Bush’s inaction certainly is not proof of Bashir’s innocence. Secondly, Bashir is ABSOLUTELY guilty of contributing to the genocide in Darfur! He danced on stage the other day promising peace to Darfurians while his planes attacked Darfur villages to the west. His military has now led two attacks on UN peace keepers killing several.
Finally I would like to say that I agree that this is a bad time and a stupid move by the ICC to bring charges against Bashir as it jeopardizes the safety of the peace keepers. Also I think the important point that Ms. Sara alludes to is that there is not a good replacement for Bashir and removing him could cause a power vacuum that could cause further violence in the country.
However to try to claim Bashir’s innocence is naive and irresponsible. Even Arabic media does not absolve him of these crimes.
Peace,
an American in Sudan

 

Postbulletin.com: Editorials, Comments, and Opinions from Rochester, MN
Sudanese warning on peacekeepers

 

Sudan President Omar al-Bashir, file image
Mr Bashir is accused of masterminding the deaths of thousands in Darfur

Sudan has again warned it cannot guarantee the safety of UN and African Union peacekeepers in Darfur if its president is indicted for war crimes.

A presidential adviser said that if the International Criminal Court indicted Omar al-Bashir, Sudan could not be held responsible for the troops' well-being.

Earlier this month, the ICC prosecutor asked judges in The Hague to issue an arrest warrant for President Bashir.

The judges are expected to announce their decision in a few weeks' time.

The adviser, Bona Malual, told the BBC the government was not expelling the joint UN/AU force (Unamid), or even threatening the troops.

It was, he said, simply saying how Sudan would view the situation.

Seven UN peacekeepers were killed in an ambush in northern Darfur the week before the prosecutor's request.

Visas in question

Mr Malual, a veteran south Sudanese politician, was speaking in Ethiopia, which he is visiting as part of Sudan's diplomatic offensive against the indictment.

UN/AU peacekeepers in Sudan (image: UN peacekeeping department)
The UN and African Union operate a hybrid mission in Darfur

He was more forthright than any other Sudanese spokesman has been so far about the effect a possible indictment might have on peacekeeping and humanitarian operations in Darfur, says the BBC's Elizabeth Blunt in the Ethiopian capital, Addis Ababa.

Mr Malual suggested Unamid could become a kind of Trojan Horse, bringing the threat of arrest into Sudan's own sovereign territory.

He said it meant that the government could not be held responsible for the security and well-being of the peacekeepers and other foreign nationals in Darfur.

It was not a question of asking them to withdraw, he said, but if they did not take this seriously, and left their people in Darfur and anything happened to them, then it was their own responsibility.

The only thing the government might do, he added, would be to cancel the visas and permits they needed to remain in the country.

Sudan ICC charges concern Mbeki

 

Thabo Mbeki (file)
Mr Mbeki said he was ready to meet Mr Bashir to discuss the implications

South Africa's president has called on the International Criminal Court not to prosecute Sudan's leader for war crimes in case it upsets Darfur's peace talks.

Thabo Mbeki told South African TV that Omar al-Bashir's continued presence as head of state was also needed to assist the country's post-civil war security.

The ICC's chief prosecutor sought an arrest warrant for Mr Bashir last week for alleged war crimes in Darfur.

On Wednesday, the Sudanese leader said he was not worried by the accusations.

"We're here to send a message to the world, we're people of peace, we want peace, we're the ones who make peace," said Mr Bashir.

Sudan's government has said it does not recognise the ICC or its decisions, and warned that any indictment could cause mayhem.

A three-judge panel at the ICC is currently considering whether there are reasonable grounds for any charges to be laid.

'Active participation'

In an interview with SABC-TV on Friday, President Mbeki said it was important that both the peace process in Darfur and the rebuilding of post-civil war Sudan were not disrupted by the ICC decision.

ACCUSATIONS AGAINST BASHIR
Sudan President Omar al-Bashir, file image
Genocide:
Killing members of the Fur, Masalit and Zaghawa ethnic groups
Causing these groups serious bodily or mental harm
Inflicting conditions of life calculated to bring about these groups' physical destruction
Crimes against humanity:
Murder
Extermination
Forcible transfer
Rape
Torture
War crimes:
Attacks on civilians in Darfur
Pillaging towns and villages

"Both of them require the very active participation of President Bashir," he said.

"I don't know how they would do that if an International Criminal Court says here's a person who has been indicted, because they then must stop interacting with him because this is a wanted criminal, and I don't know how you then implement all of those things," he added.

Mr Mbeki, who has been criticised for being soft on Zimbabwean President Robert Mugabe, said he was ready to meet Mr Bashir to discuss the implications.

The African Union has called for the UN Security Council to suspend the accusations, while the Arab League has warned they set a dangerous precedent.

ICC Chief Prosecutor Luis Moreno-Ocampo told judges at The Hague on 14 July that there were "reasonable grounds" for believing Mr Bashir bore criminal responsibility on 10 counts of genocide, crimes against humanity and war crimes in Darfur.

Some 300,000 people have died as a result of the conflict since 2003 while more than two million have fled their homes, the UN estimates.

Sudan's government denies mobilising Arab Janjaweed militias to attack black African civilians in Darfur after rebels took up arms.

Eritrean President denounces ICC allegations against Sudan

 Asmara, July 26 (SUNA)- Eritrean President Issias Afeworki has denounced the allegations of the prosecutor of the International Criminal Court (ICC) against Sudan, affirming his country's support to Sudan in the face of all challenges. This came when President Afeworki received in Asmara a Sudanese delegation led by Justice Minister Abdel-Basit Sabdarat, who conveyed to him a message from President of the Republic Field Marshal Omer Al-Bashir dealing with developments in Sudan. The meeting also discussed the developed relations between the two countries. BT/BT

Brunei's newspapers highlight President Al-Bashir's visit to Darfur states

 Bandar Seri Begawan, July 26 (SUNA) - The newspapers in the Sultanate of Brunei Darussalam have highlighted the visit paid by the President of the Republic, Field Marshal Omer Al-Bashir, to the three states of Darfur. Brunei Bulletin newspaper reported that the international media had witnessed tens of thousands of Darfur people who showed their support to the Sudanese President in the face of the allegations of the International Criminal Court. The newspaper said the visit of President Al-Bashir focused of the efforts of peace and development. BT/BT

Meeting of experts of High Sudanese-Egyptian Committee begins

 Cairo, July 26 (SUNA) - The meetings of experts of the High Sudanese-Egyptian Committee began in Cairo Saturday to prepare for the meeting of the high joint committee between the two countries, which will be held in Alexandria on July 30-31, co-chaired by Vice President Ali Osman Mohamed Taha and Egyptian Prime Minister Dr. Ahmed Nadhief. Sudan Ambassador to Egypt Abdel-Moneim Mohamed Mabrouk said the meeting of the sixth session of the committee this year gains added importance as is convened under circumstances in which Sudan faces major challenges, especially following the baseless and rejected allegations by the prosecutor of International Criminal Court against Sudan. He pointed out that a number of agreements and memorandums of understandings would be signed during the meeting on cooperation between the two countries. BT/BT

Sudanese community in Saudi Arabia reaffirms its rejection and condemnation to ICC allegations

 Riyadh, July 26 (SUNA)- The Sudanese community in the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia has reaffirmed its rejection and condemnation to the allegations of the International Criminal Court (ICC) against Sudan, stressing their support to the Government of National Unity in the face of any plot that targets Sudan's unity, sovereignty, security and stability. The community submitted a document of bayah (oath of allegiance) to the President of the Republic. This came in a big national mobilization campaign, organized by the National Committee for Facing Threats to Security and Safety of Sudan in collaboration with Sudan Embassy in Riyadh Thursday at the premises of the embassy. Deputy Ambassador Ahmed Yousif addressed the occasion, pointing out that President Omer Al-Bashir's visit to Darfur refuted the allegations of ICC prosecutor, Ocampo. Yousif praised the stances of the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia, pointing out that the Kingdom, under the leadership of the Custodian of the Two Holy Mosques, has remained supporting Sudan's unity and sovereignty and Sudan's issues. He reaffirmed the support of the Sudanese community in Saudi Arabia with all its associations and political parties to the Government of National Unity in the face of the ICC allegations. Chairman of the National Committee Dr. Omer Alasam, on his part, said the community has sent a strong and clear message to all those behind plots against Sudan. BT/BT

Obama on the Muslim Email

 

It's been around for months and quite frankly, Barack Obama is getting sick and tired of it. The email says he's really a Muslim and other stuff too. Watch him refute the email above. He calls it a "political strategy". Read the transcription below.

Barack Obama: This is obviously a systematic political strategy by somebody because these emails don't just keep coming out the way they have without somebody being behind it. Basically the email falsely states that I'm Muslim, that I pledged my oath of office on a Koran instead of a Bible, that I don't Pledge Allegiance to the flag. Scurrilous stuff.

I want to make sure that your viewers understand that I am a Christian who has belonged to the same church for almost twenty years now. It's where Michelle and I got married. It's where our kids were dedicated. I took my oath of office on my family Bible. I lead the pledge of allegiance when I open up the Senate. I've been saying the pledge of allegiance since I was three years old.

I think it 's very important for people not to buy into the kinds of dirty tricks that we've become so accustomed to in our politics and people need to understand I'm not and never have been of the Muslim faith. I think that those who are of the Muslim faith are deserving of respect and dignity but to try and feed into this fear mongering and try to question my faith commitments and my belief in Jesus Christ I think is offensive and I want to make sure that people are absolutely clear about what's going on with this and if they get another one of these emails that they're deleting it and letting their friends know that it's nonsense.

David Brody: You said it was a dirty trick. Do you believe that it is somehow campaign related?

Barack Obama: We have no way of tracing where these emails come from but what I know is they come in waves and they somehow appear magically wherever the next primary or caucus is, although they're also being distributed all across the country but the volume increases as we get closer to particular elections. That indicates to me that this is something that is being used to try to raise doubts or suspicions about my candidacy.

It's something as you said has been lingering from the start. It's one of the consequences of having an unusual name or having a father from Africa even though my mother is from Kansas.

UN head urges Sudan to co-operate

 

Peacekeepers in Sudan
The peacekeeping force in Darfur is understrength and under pressure

United Nations chief Ban Ki-moon has urged Sudan to co-operate with the UN and ensure the security of peacekeepers and humanitarian workers in Darfur.

His call came a day after a prosecutor for the International Criminal Court (ICC) accused Sudanese President Omar al-Bashir of genocide.

He denies the charge, and Sudan says it will seek to block the work of the ICC.

Meanwhile, Mr Ban said in a new report he was "deeply disappointed" by a lack of progress on ending strife in Darfur.

The report, released on Tuesday but dated 7 July, did not mention the request by prosecutor Luis Moreno-Ocampo for the ICC to issue an arrest warrant for the Sudanese president.

Mr Bashir, who says the accusations are lies, is accused of genocide, crimes against humanity and war crimes in Darfur.

The UN is withdrawing about 200 non-essential staff from the joint UN-African Union Darfur mission, Unamid, describing it as a precautionary move after the genocide accusation and recent violence.

'Should be protected'

Speaking in Berlin after talks with German Chancellor Angela Merkel, Mr Ban urged Sudan to "fully co-operate" with the UN.

READ A SUMMARY OF THE CASE
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The UN secretary-general said Mr Bashir must ensure "that the United Nations peacekeeping operations should be able to carry [out] their duties and missions as mandated by the Security Council".

He went on: "At the same time, there are 16,000 humanitarian workers who are supporting more than 4 million refugees and internally displaced people.

"This is a huge operation, their efforts should also be protected."

Some 300,000 people have died as a result of the conflict in Darfur since 2003, while more than two million people have fled their homes, the UN estimates.

Sudan's government denies mobilising Arab Janjaweed militias to attack black African civilians in Darfur since rebels took up arms in 2003.

Volatility

In the report released on Tuesday, Mr Ban said he was very concerned about reports that a Sudanese rebel group appeared to be using child soldiers.

Women protest in support of Sudan's president
Protesters turned out in Khartoum in support of President Bashir

The Sudanese government had reported that after an attack on Khartoum in May by the rebel Justice and Equality Movement (Jem), some of those it captured were child soldiers.

Mr Ban said the tensions between Sudan and its neighbour Chad, which Khartoum accuses of backing Jem, "should also be highlighted as a source of considerable instability in Darfur and volatility on both sides of the border region".

Earlier, President Omar al-Bashir's most senior adviser told the BBC the ICC allegations were designed to generate hostility between tribal groups in Darfur.

Ghazi Salaheddin warned that if the ICC pursued the case, it could jeopardise relations between Sudan and the UN.

Thousands of Sudanese took to the streets of Khartoum on Tuesday to rally in support of their president.

Judges at the ICC, an independent body, are yet to decide if there are reasonable grounds to issue an arrest warrant against Mr Bashir.

'Restraint' call

In its first reaction, China expressed grave concern over the ICC prosecutor's decision to seek the arrest of Omar al-Bashir, saying it could undermine efforts to bring stability to Sudan.

ACCUSATIONS AGAINST BASHIR
Genocide:
Killing members of the Fur, Masalit and Zaghawa ethnic groups
Causing these groups serious bodily or mental harm
Inflicting conditions of life calculated to bring about these groups' physical destruction
Crimes against humanity:
Murder
Extermination
Forcible transfer
Rape
Torture
War crimes:
Attacks on civilians in Darfur
Pillaging towns and villages

Meanwhile Russia called for "restraint" from all sides.

The Peace and Security Commissioner for the African Union, Ramtane Lamamra, has flown to Sudan for a meeting with Mr Bashir and other members of the government.

The AU Commission expressed concern that "hard-won gains made in the search for peace and reconciliation in the Sudan" could be jeopardised.

Foreign ministers of the 15 countries currently serving on the AU's Peace and Security Council are expected to meet in Addis Ababa, the Ethiopian capital where the AU is based, next week.

The charges against President Bashir put African countries in an acutely difficult position, says the BBC's Liz Blunt in Addis Ababa.

They supply almost all the troops for the joint AU/UN peacekeeping force in Darfur, and are also the countries most likely to be called upon to carry out any arrest warrant, she says.

Defiance and confidence in Sudan

 

A pro-Bashir rally in Khartoum, Sudan. Photo: 15 July 2008
Angry demonstrators in Khartoum vowed to protect their president
Defiant and confident - this is the mood in Khartoum less than 24 hours after the International Criminal Court prosecutor, Luis Moreno-Ocampo, accused Sudan's President Omar al-Bashir of genocide, crimes against humanity and war crimes.

Given that Sudan does not recognise the court, it is perhaps no surprise that it intends to use every means possible now to block the next stage - the issuing of an arrest warrant against Mr Bashir.

Previous warrants - designed to land a serving Sudanese minister and a Janjaweed leader in the dock - have come to nothing. They have been torn up by the Sudanese authorities who maintain that their own courts are capable of doing the job.

This is despite the fact that it is the use of state apparatus to deadly effect that forms the basis of the ICC prosecutor's allegations.

Coup warning

Jan Pronk, a former UN special envoy to Sudan, spoke with insight when he said that the government of President Bashir would use the ICC allegations as an instrument to strengthen its own power.

READ A SUMMARY OF THE CASE
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Even Sudan's opposition Umma party, which initially favoured the ICC investigation, has warned that it could prompt "constitutional collapse".

The African Union has cautioned that we could see "a military coup and widespread anarchy" if the arrest warrants are issued.

Sudan's Chinese allies have expressed "grave concern and misgivings" at the proposed indictment and the impact it could have on destabilising an already fragile region.

'Easy' targets

So where next?

Human rights groups have sought to defend the ICC.

They argue that - by requesting arrest warrants for a serving leader - the court sends the message out to others that impunity will not longer be tolerated.

ACCUSATIONS AGAINST BASHIR
Omar al-Bashir at a rally in Khartoum, 13 July
Genocide:
Killing members of the Fur, Masalit and Zaghawa ethnic groups
Causing these groups serious bodily or mental harm
Inflicting conditions of life calculated to bring about these groups' physical destruction
Crimes against humanity:
Murder
Extermination
Forcible transfer
Rape
Torture
War crimes:
Attacks on civilians in Darfur
Pillaging towns and villages

But the problem for the ICC is the perception that it is a political beast motivated by rich Western interests, honing in on "easy" targets.

All four investigations of the ICC to date have focused on Africa. There may be good administrative reasons for that, but it pushes African nations onto the defensive and makes the ICC look like a playground bully - rather than a beacon of justice.

The International Crisis Group (ICG) think-tank has suggested that the international community can carve out an opportunity out of the current adversity.

Rather than hand-wringing over how much more insecure Darfur could become, it is suggesting that Mr Moreno-Ocampo's charges could provide some leverage to hold Sudan in check.

Sudan has not responded well in the past to threats and UN Security Council resolutions on Darfur, but the landscape this time may be different.

It is likely to take several months before the ICC judges decide whether to issue an arrest warrant against Mr Bashir.

The ICG says that time could be used to assess whether "genuine and substantial progress" had been made in halting the violence in Darfur.

Invoking article 16 of the Rome Statue that underpins the ICC would allow for any prosecutions to be suspended and reviewed periodically.

If the yardsticks by which Sudan's progress is measured include permitting the expansion of the joint AU-UN peacekeeping force to full strength and engaging in genuine peace brokering, the legal move may not be the blunt instrument that so many fear.

Sudan 'will block genocide case'

 

Women protest in support of Sudan's president
Protesters turn out in Khartoum in support of President Bashir

Sudan has said it will do all it can to block the work of the International Criminal Court, which has accused the nation's leader of genocide in Darfur.

President Omar al-Bashir's most senior adviser told the BBC the allegations were designed to generate hostility between tribal groups in Darfur.

Ghazi Salaheddin said that if the ICC pursued the case it could jeopardise relations between Sudan and the UN.

Meanwhile, the UN is withdrawing about 200 non-essential staff from Darfur.

READ A SUMMARY OF THE CASE
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The UN said the decision to pull back staff from the joint UN-African Union Darfur mission, Unamid, came after recent violence and as a precaution after the genocide accusation.

In the capital, Khartoum, the UN told its staff to stay at home as thousands of Sudanese took to the streets rallying in support of their president.

Mr Bashir, who says the accusations are lies, is accused of genocide, crimes against humanity and war crimes in Darfur.

Judges at the ICC, an independent body, are yet to decide if there are reasonable grounds to issue an arrest warrant against Mr Bashir.

Some 300,000 people have died as a result of the conflict in Darfur since 2003, while more than two million people have fled their homes, the UN estimates.

Sudan's government denies mobilising Arab Janjaweed militias to attack black African civilians in Darfur since rebels took up arms in 2003.

'No jurisdiction'

In a BBC interview, Ghazi Salaheddin said Sudan did not recognise the ICC's jurisdiction and it would be rallying support among its allies to try to block proceedings.

Efforts to indict a sitting head of state would set a dangerous precedent, he said.

 

I strongly support the ICC's move, I do not want to see people dying anymore
Job, Sudan

Allegations of genocide by the ICC's chief prosecutor were designed to generate hostility between tribal groups in Darfur, Mr Salaheddin said.

"On the allegation of genocide, an international commission sanctioned by the United Nations has come and investigated the situation in Sudan and has concluded that there was no genocide. So genocide is out of the question," he said.

Mr Salaheddin denied the government of Sudan was blackmailing the international community by failing to provide security guarantees for peacekeepers and humanitarian staff.

He said that Sudan would be seeking support from its allies in the Arab League, which is meeting on Saturday to discuss how to respond to the ICC's accusations.

The UN runs large-scale humanitarian operations in the region and has thousands of peacekeepers in Darfur as part of a joint mission with the African Union (AU).

African Union dilemma

In its first reaction, China expressed grave concern over the ICC prosecutor's decision to seek the arrest of Omar al-Bashir.

A foreign ministry spokesman said the court should try to help bring stability to Sudan and not to undermine it.

He said China would continue to consult with other members of the UN Security Council about whether to block the ICC but would not speculate on possible results of talks.

ACCUSATIONS AGAINST BASHIR
Omar al-Bashir at a rally in Khartoum, 13 July
Genocide:
Killing members of the Fur, Masalit and Zaghawa ethnic groups
Causing these groups serious bodily or mental harm
Inflicting conditions of life calculated to bring about these groups' physical destruction
Crimes against humanity:
Murder
Extermination
Forcible transfer
Rape
Torture
War crimes:
Attacks on civilians in Darfur
Pillaging towns and villages

Meanwhile Russia called for "restraint" from all sides.

Russia's ambassador to the UN said Sudan and the UN must "exercise restraint and find solutions that will help the people of Sudan and resolve the crisis in Darfur".

The US, which is not part of the ICC, offered some praise on Monday for prosecutor Luis Moreno-Ocampo's charge.

"In our view, recognition of the humanitarian disaster and the atrocities that have gone on there is a positive thing," state department spokesman Sean McCormack said.

But the African Union urged caution. Speaking on behalf of the AU chairman, Tanzanian Foreign Minister Bernard Membe said the ICC should suspend its decision on whether to seek Mr Bashir's arrest until problems in Darfur were resolved.

The Peace and Security Commissioner for the AU, Ramtane Lamamra, has flown to Sudan for a meeting with Mr Bashir and other members of the government.

The AU Commission expressed concern that "hard-won gains made in the search for peace and reconciliation in the Sudan" could be jeopardised.

Foreign ministers of the 15 countries currently serving on the AU's Peace and Security Council are expected to meet in Addis Ababa, the Ethiopian capital where the AU is based, next week.

The charges against President Bashir put African countries in an acutely difficult position, says the BBC's Liz Blunt in Addis Ababa.

They supply almost all the troops for the joint AU/UN peacekeeping force in Darfur, and are also the countries most likely to be called upon to carry out any arrest warrant, she says.

China rejects BBC Darfur claims

 

Chinese-built Dong Feng truck filmed by BBC Panorama inside Darfur in April 2008
The BBC says it found Chinese-made trucks in Darfur

China says a BBC documentary accusing Beijing of fuelling the war in Darfur by supplying military equipment and training to Sudan is "strongly biased".

On Monday, the BBC's Panorama programme revealed evidence that China had sent military trucks to Sudan, which were used in attacks on civilians in Darfur.

It also said China was training fighter pilots who fly Chinese A5 jets there.

But China's special envoy for Darfur, Liu Guijin, says his country has never violated a UN ban on arms to Darfur.

The UN embargo requires foreign nations to take measures to ensure they do not militarily assist anyone in the conflict in Darfur, in which the UN estimates about 300,000 people have died.

More than two million people are also believed to have fled their villages in Darfur, destroyed by pro-government Arab Janjaweed militia.

'West to blame'

The Panorama report came on the same day that Sudan's president Omar al-Bashir was accused of genocide, crimes against humanity and war crimes in Darfur by the prosecutor of the International Criminal Court.

A few shots of Chinese trucks in Darfur cannot be used to accuse China of fuelling the conflict in Darfur
Liu Guijin
China's special envoy for Darfur

On Tuesday, Beijing hit back at the allegations in the BBC's Panorama programme in a front page article in the state-run China Daily.

"The programme is strongly biased," Mr Liu was quoted as saying.

"A few shots of Chinese trucks in Darfur cannot be used to accuse China of fuelling the conflict in Darfur," he said.

Mr Liu blamed the ongoing violence in Darfur on Western countries, saying that a minister from one African country had told him arms supplied by the West to the rebels in Darfur were dragging out the conflict.

"China's arm sales were very small in scale and never made to non-sovereign entities. We have strict end-user certificates," he added.

The envoy's comments were later reiterated by Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman Liu Jianchao at a regular press briefing.

Liu Jianchao said that the BBC allegations were incorrect and unfair.

He also expressed "grave concern" about the international courts decision to seek the arrest of President Bashir.

'Empty measure'

The BBC's Panorama programme tracked down Chinese Dong Feng army lorries in Darfur that came from a batch exported from China to Sudan.

Markings on the vehicles suggested that they were from a batch of 212 Dong Feng army lorries that the UN had traced as having arrived in Sudan in 2005, after the UN arms embargo was put in place.

The lorries came straight from the factory in China to Sudan and were consigned to Sudan's defence ministry, the programme makers said.

China has said in the past that it told Sudan's government not to use Chinese military equipment in Darfur.

But Sudan's government has told the UN that it will send military equipment where it likes within its sovereign territory.

An international lawyer, Clare da Silva, said that China's point that it had taken measures in line with the arms embargo's requirements was meaningless and that the BBC's evidence put China in violation of it.

"It is an empty measure to take the assurances from a partner who clearly has no intention of abiding by the resolution," she told Panorama.

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