Sudan’s justice minister has asked Interpol to arrest the leader of Darfur’s most powerful rebel group, state media says, a step likely to dash hopes of progress in a faltering peace process.
President Omar Hassan al-Bashir is wanted by the International Criminal Court for war crimes during a counter-insurgency campaign in Darfur — violence Washington has described as genocide. Khartoum rejects both charges.
The United Nations estimates some 300 000 have died in a humanitarian crisis sparked after mostly non-Arab rebels took up arms in early 2003 demanding more rights for the arid region.
The Sudanese Media Centre quoted Abdel Basit Sabderat as saying the rebel Justice and Equality Movement (JEM) leader, Khalil Ibrahim, should stand trial for an unprecedented May 2008 attack on the capital Khartoum, which killed around 200 people.
“The relevant authorities of Interpol have been requested to arrest him wherever he is so that he may face trial … and be handed over to the Sudanese authorities,” SMC quoted Sabderat as saying.
He urged “all concerned states not to shelter him and to extradite him to face trial”, SMC added. Sabderat was not immediately available to confirm the report.
Ibrahim has left Qatar-based peace talks and is visiting Cairo, an ally of Khartoum. JEM officials declined to comment.
SMC said Ibrahim was accused of some 14 charges including murder and waging war against the state.
Khartoum’s move against Ibrahim is likely to end progress in the peace talks, prompted by a rapprochement between Sudan and neighbour Chad, who had hosted Darfur’s rebels.
“This means peace process over,” said an international source familiar with the Darfur file who declined to be named.
Separately, the state news agency Suna said Sudanese police had arrested two men suspected of killing two Egyptian members of a UN-African Union peacekeeping force in an ambush last Friday in Darfur.
The attack on the UNAMID peacekeepers marked a further deterioration of security in the west, as JEM reported government shelling of their positions near the Chad border.
Police told Suna they had arrested the two men in the South Darfur area of Edd al Fursan and were now hunting down the rest of a seven-man bandit gang blamed for Friday’s attack.
A total of 24 UNAMID soldiers and police have been killed in ambushes, carjackings and other violent incidents since their under-equipped force moved in at the beginning of 2008.
JEM on Sunday accused Sudan’s army of bombing and shelling positions in the remote Jabel Moun area of West Darfur state, saying it was the latest in a series of attacks in the region.
The army said it could not confirm the report of fighting.
Pic: JEM leader- Khalil Ibrahim