China held off from condemning the International Criminal Court over its arrest warrant for Sudanese President Omar Hassan al-Bashir for orchestrating genocide in the Darfur region.
China last year urged the U.N. Security Council to suspend the court’s arrest warrant pursuing al-Bashir, expressing “regret and worry” about the case. This time, China’s tone was much more reserved, and did not directly address the issuing of the warrant, reports Reuters.
Efforts towards peace in the area were progressing well, which had been warmly welcomed in Africa, China’s Foreign Ministry said in a statement on its website (www.mfa.gov.cn).
“We hope that the related organisation listens more attentively to the opinions of the African Union, Arab League and other countries in the region,” the brief statement quoted ministry spokesman Qin Gang as saying.
China hopes the court “takes the overall situation into account and plays a constructive role in effecting long-term peace and stability in Sudan and the region”, Qin added. Chinese companies are major investors in Sudan’s oil, and China has also sent peacekeepers to Darfur.
China and the African Union have suggested 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 — potentially rich in oil.
The genocide charge followed an arrest warrant issued by the Hague-based court against Bashir in March 2009 for war crimes and crimes against humanity in the Darfur conflict.
Bashir has dismissed the accusations by the world’s first permanent court for prosecuting war crimes, calling them a Western conspiracy. The ICC warrant was the first issued against a sitting head of state by the court.
Bashir remains at large as the ICC has no police force and depends on national authorities and states that have signed up to the court to make arrests.