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Wednesday, March 04, 2009

Sudan president war crimes warrant met with mixed reaction
Devin Montgomery at 2:41 PM ET

[JURIST] Sudan and other African countries on Wednesday criticized the International Criminal Court (ICC) [official website] for issuing an arrest warrant [text, PDF; ICC release] for Sudanese President Omar al-Bashir [ICC materials, PDF; JURIST news archive], while Sudan's opposition leaders, the UN, and various Western countries urged Bashir's government to cooperate with court. In Sudan, Information and Communication Minister Kamal Ebeid rejected [Xinhua report] the court's authority to issue the warrant, thousands protested in Darfur, and several aid agencies were expelled from the country. Spokesmen for both the African Union [official website] and Egypt warned that the warrant could disrupt peacekeeping efforts in the country, but Sudan opposition SPLM Party member Ezekiel Lol Gatkuoth said that actions by the ICC should not interfere [VOA report] with country's Comprehensive Peace Agreement (CPA) [UN backgrounder]. UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon [official website] urged Sudan to cooperate with the court [press release] and said that UN peacekeepers would remain in the country. The US State Department [official website] said that the US supported peace in Sudan and that those responsible for atrocities there should be held accountable [press release].

The warrant for Bashir, issued [decision, PDF; JURIST report] earlier on Wednesday, charged him with seven counts of war crimes and crimes against humanity, but did not include genocide charges. The controversial arrest warrant [JURIST news archive] had been sought by ICC prosecutor Luis Moreno-Ocampo [official profile], who in July filed preliminary charges [text, PDF; JURIST report] against Bashir alleging genocide, crimes against humanity, and war crimes committed in the Darfur region in violation of Articles 6, 7, and 8 of the Rome Statute [text]. The ICC announced last week [JURIST report] that they would decide whether to issue an arrest warrant on Wednesday. The announcement came after the New York Times reported [NYT report] last month that the warrant had been issued, leading a court official quickly to issue a denial [JURIST report].

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