July 22nd, 2008 | xinhua Sudan vows to protect sovereignty, dismisses ICC
NAIROBI, July 22 (Xinhua) — The Sudanese government vowed on Tuesday to protect its sovereignty, reiterating that indictment of President Omar al-Bashir by the International Criminal Court (ICC) will jeopardize the entire peace in Africa’s largest country.
Addressing a news conference in Nairobi, Sudanese Presidential Advisor Bona Malwal also maintained that Khartoum will not surrender any Sudanese citizen to a court outside Sudan, stressing that doing so “surrendering Sudan’s sovereignty to foreigners.”
“We are firm on this. President Bashir is the custodian of CPA(Comprehensive peace Agreement) we signed here in Nairobi. He is the custodian of peace accords in East and in Darfur and therefore we see indictment as an assault on the Sudanese,” Malwal told journalists in Nairobi.
“We are sending a message to the entire world that Sudan is ready to guard its interests,” he said.
Malwal, also a former transport minister, said the Sudanese are ready to defend themselves, their land, and won’t give in to any type of political blackmail.
He noted that the problem in Darfur is that foreign interference played a big role in it, adding that those who fled the troubled areas were in government and military areas and protection.
“What is happening at the ICC is pure naked politics because Sudan has not been a friend to some of the foreign countries as far as its natural resources are concerned. Our position is that we regard ICC indictment as a direct assault on our sovereignty,” Malwal told journalists.
On July 14, ICC Chief Prosecutor Luis Moreno-Ocampo formally requested an arrest warrant against al-Bashir for alleged war crimes and crimes against humanity in the western Sudanese region of Darfur.
Ocampo asked the court for an arrest warrant for al-Bashir, who is the most senior figure pursued by the court since it was set up in 2002. But Malwal said Sudan refuses “any interference in its internal affairs, any political blackmail and pressures.”
“Colonial powers seek to cut Sudan into pieces in their own ways. They do not want the country to play a constructive role in resolving the conflict in Darfur. We are ready to find resolution to the Darfur conflict but arresting Bashir is like overthrowing the government of Sudan,” he charged.
The presidential advisor warned that any arrest of al-Bashir may result in the landmark north-south peace agreement, which was signed in Nairobi in 2005 after many years of protracted negotiations, not being implemented.
“If you arrest al-Bashir today and somebody else comes and doesn’t recognize the CPA. Who will implement the CPA”, asked Malwal.
He said Sudan’s courts are investigating allegations of war crimes in Darfur and will punish anyone found responsible. The African Union, he said, has also voiced its support to the competence to prosecute alleged war criminals.
“We are saying we will punish impunity. The AU will punish impunity but ICC cannot show Africa how to deal with human rights abuses. We are worried that somebody is determined to undermine all the achievements Sudan has made over the years by imposing unnecessary indictment,” he said.
“If al-Bashir is arrested today, let me warn the international community that there would be no end to civil war in the Sudan. We are ready to negotiate with 32 rebel movements in Sudan but not through the Hague,” Malwal said.
On Monday Sudan won AU council’s support in rejecting the ICC’s planned indictment. Malwal said that African leaders were concerned that more leaders on the continent may face similar charges from ICC and courts from other countries.
“There is a feeling that Bashir is not the first or last. Maybe (Zimbabwean President Robert) Mugabe could be the next,” Malwal said.
Sudan which is not a signatory to the treaty that established the ICC, has said it won’t cooperate with the court.
Leaders of the African Union have also warned that indicting Beshir could lead to a power vacuum in Sudan, increasing the risk of military coups and even anarchy, jeopardizing efforts to resolve the situation.