ICC to decide on Sudanese leader next week

The International Criminal Court is expected to announce next week whether it will issue an arrest warrant for Sudanese President Omar Hassan al-Bashir on charges of genocide, crimes against humanity and war crimes in Darfur.
Reuters reports the ICC says it will announce its decision next Wednesday. Earlier this month, UN diplomats and officials told Reuters the ICC had decided to go ahead and issue an arrest warrant.
Bashir is the most senior figure pursued by the court since it was set up in 2002. He dismisses the allegations and refuses to deal with the ICC, calling it part of a Western conspiracy.
The court’s chief prosecutor Luis Moreno-Ocampo requested the warrant for Bashir last July, making him the third sitting head of state to be charged by an international court following Liberia’s Charles Taylor and Yugoslavia’s Slobodan Milosevic.
The court said it had decided to give notice of the date of the announcement as there “have been numerous rumours over the past weeks on a possible date and outcome of the decision.”
Ocampo accuses Bashir of orchestrating a campaign of genocide in Sudan’s western region of Darfur, starting in 2003. Ocampo has said 35 000 people were killed outright and at least 100 000 more through starvation and disease.
Khartoum rejects the term genocide and says 10 000 people died in the conflict.
A commander of the rebel Justice and Equality Movement (JEM) said he expected the ICC to announce the arrest warrant and his movement wanted to assist in the arrest of Bashir to help the international community avoid “suffering casualties.”
“We support the ICC in issuing an arrest warrant for the Sudanese president for his crimes against humanity in Darfur. We now ask the ICC and the Security Council to delegate JEM to arrest Omar al-Bashir,” Suleiman Sandal told Reuters.
“We have the ability to reach Khartoum and Omdurman, as you have seen,” he said, referring to the group’s attack on the Sudanese capital and its suburb last May. “It would be easy to arrest him.”
China, the African Union, South Africa and the Arab League have all suggested that an indictment of Bashir could destabilise the region, worsen the Darfur conflict and threaten a troubled peace deal between north Sudan and the semi-autonomous south.
This caused the SA opposition Democratic Alliance (DA) party to express its deep dismay at the weekend at the Department of Foreign Affairs` decision to approach the ICC to delay the indictment.
“We call upon the SA government to immediately suspend its campaign to shield President Al-Bashir from possible prosecution for his crimes against humanity, and to allow the law to take its course,” said Africa spokesman Joe Seremane.
He says SA opposed the ICC`s decision to charge the Al-Bashir last year; “now we are actively delaying the process of charging him.
“This latest foreign policy misstep is consistent with SA`s policy positions in recent years. It comes against the backdrop of a series of decisions which make a mockery of SA`s commitment to promote respect for human rights in implementing our foreign policy.
“Our support for Al-Bashir and SA`s voting record on the United Nations Security Council (UNSC) – opposing UN resolutions against human rights violations by the Myanmar military regime, as well as opposing a resolution to discuss the human rights abuses in Zimbabwe in the Security Council in 2007 – show that our government seems bent on protecting dictators and tyrants from international scrutiny, instead of standing up for the human rights of ordinary people.
“Our two year record on the UNSC was in stark contrast to Nelson Mandela`s vision of human rights being the ‘…light that which guides our foreign policy actions`.”