Egypt warned on Sunday of dire repercussions if an international arrest warrant is issued for Sudanese President Omar al-Beshir just as steps are being agreed toward ending the six-year conflict in Darfur.
“An arrest warrant for President Beshir will have dangerous consequences for the situation in Darfur, in particular, and Sudan in general,” presidential spokesman Suleiman Awad told reporters after Beshir met Egyptian counterpart Hosni Mubarak in Cairo.
Beshir, whom the International Criminal Court (ICC) in considering charging with genocide and war crimes in Sudan’s western region of Darfur, met Mubarak for several hours before returning to Khartoum.
Awad said Mubarak has pressed world leaders not to support the possible arrest warrant, adding that if it is issued Egypt believes some members of the UN Security Council will vote against and thus veto endorsement of the move.
Sudanese Ambassador to Egypt Abdel Moneim Mohammed Mabruk welcomed Egypt’s position, saying “we are satisfied with the outcome of this visit.”
“Egypt has always stood fast in supporting Sudan,” he said, adding that Sudan believes a warrant would also complicate peace talks between the Sudanese government and Darfuri rebels.
Last week, the Khartoum government and the most active rebel group in Darfur, the Justice and Equality Movement, signed a confidence-building pact in Doha aimed at laying the groundwork for broader peace talks. On the same day, JEM chief Khalil Ibrahim announced the release of 21 prisoners held by his group.
Sudanese Foreign Minister Deng Alor Kuol on Friday reiterated an African Union-backed call to postpone international efforts to try Beshir for war crimes by a year to smooth the way for the peace efforts in Darfur.
“We are asking for one year for postponement because this will give us time to work for peace in Darfur which we have already started with one movement ... we have many movements, more than 10, about 15,” Kuol said in South Africa.
If an arrest warrant is issued, “there will be negative consequences of course,” he said.
ICC chief prosecutor Luis Moreno-Ocampo asked last July for an warrant to be issued against Beshir for alleged genocide, war crimes and crimes against humanity in Darfur.
Meanwhile, two Sudanese who worked for French humanitarian groups in Darfur were shot and killed in a weekend attack that also left four civilians wounded, a spokesman for UN peacekeepers said yesterday.
The two from Aide Medicale Internationale were attacked on Saturday evening as they drove in a remote area where fighting has surged between government forces and rebels.
Investigations suggested the gunmen, who rode camels and horses, were bandits, a spokesman for the joint UN/African Union peacekeeping force said.
He said there were reports 24 gunmen held up a truck on the road earlier and opened fire when the aid workers drove past.