Sudanese President Omar al-Bashir lashed out at the West yesterday over the International Criminal Court (ICC) arrest warrant that has sparked fears of insecurity and a humanitarian crisis in Darfur.
Sudan reacted swiftly to the ICC’s decision to seek Bashir’s arrest for war crimes and crimes against humanity by ordering the expulsion of 10 foreign aid agencies, including Oxfam and Medicins Sans Frontieres, a move that could threaten aid to hundreds of thousands of people.
A string of African and Arab states, along with Sudan’s key ally China, called for the suspension of the ICC warrant, warning it could undermine efforts to end the six-year conflict in Darfur.
And Bashir, 65, remained defiant yesterday as thousands of angry Sudanese staged a mass demonstration in Khartoum, the latest show of support for the leader of Africa’s largest country.
“The true criminals are the leaders of the United States and Europe,” Bashir told a mass rally in Khartoum, where demonstrators set ablaze US and Israeli flags and effigies of ICC prosecutor Luis Moreno-Ocampo.
Khartoum has vowed it would not cooperate with The Hague-based court, which accuses Bashir of masterminding a campaign of extermination, rape and pillage in Darfur. He faces five counts of crimes against humanity and two of war crimes.
The UN says up to 300,000 people have died since conflict broke out in Darfur in 2003.
US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton and the EU said Bashir must face justice, but analysts say there is little prospect of him being hauled before the court with world powers deeply divided over the warrant.
“China expresses its regretfulness and worry over the arrest warrant for the Sudan president issued by the International Criminal Court,” Foreign Ministry spokesman Qin Gang (秦剛) said yesterday in Beijing.
Meanwhile, the Sudanese army broadcast a stark warning on state radio against anyone trying to exploit the ICC’s decision.