Saturday, March 28, 2009

Catch me if you can - Sudan's president

( — OMAR AL-BASHIR certainly gets around. In defiance of the arrest warrant for war crimes issued against him by the International Criminal Court (ICC) on March 4th, the Sudanese president has spent the past week jetting about northern Africa. He visited Eritrea, Egypt and Libya and was planning a trip to Ethiopia. Having called on some of his neighbours, he is making up his mind whether to attend a summit of the Arab League in Qatar on Monday March 30th.

Mr Bashir is scathing about the allegations of crimes against humanity and war crimes that are levelled against him. As he travelled, a spokesman for the Sudanese foreign ministry said that the president considers the warrant for his arrest “not worth the ink it is written with—and this is the message of this trip.”

For now the ICC is putting on a brave face. Speaking to al-Jazeera television the court’s chief prosecutor, Luis Moreno-Ocampo, retorted that Mr Bashir’s trip is “a sign of desperation rather than a challenge to the ICC”. In fact the trip demonstrates the enormous difficulty faced by the court in getting those indicted into the dock.

Within Sudan Mr Bashir faces no threat of arrest. In Khartoum, the capital, people prefer to avoid talking in public about the indictment of the president. When pressed, a typical response is no more than a resigned shrug of the shoulders. A few dissidents explain that after two decades of military rule, it is time for Mr Bashir to go. Those more sympathetic to Mr Bashir, notably in government and business, suggest that the warrant is part of a broad American conspiracy to steal resources (mainly oil) from Sudan. For them, the president’s wanderings are welcome evidence of his thumbing his nose at the court. Read more >>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>

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