February 6, 2009 (WASHINGTON) — The Judges of the International Criminal Court (ICC) will soon release a decision in which they agree to issue an arrest warrant for Sudanese president Omer Hassan Al-Bashir, Sudan Tribune has learnt.
The ruling that could be made public as early as next week will make Bashir the most senior figure to be indicted by The Hague based court.
The Pre-Trial Chamber I which is assigned the Darfur case has been reviewing an application submitted by prosecutor Luis Moreno-Ocampo last July requesting an arrest warrant for Bashir on three counts of genocide, five of crimes against humanity and two of murder
There was no confirmation on which counts the warrant was issued for, but one source suggested that it will include the charges of genocide, which is considered the gravest crime in international law.
Last week the ICC prosecutor sent an urgent notification to the Judges after which they met with him on Tuesday in a closed session along with the court’s Registrar Silvana Arbia along with representatives from the Victims and Witnesses Unit (VWU).
The meeting likely discussed measures taken to discuss risks associated with unsealing the warrant.
The decision, which remains under seal, will be transmitted to the UN Secretary General Ban Ki-Moon shortly according to multiple sources. The ICC prosecutor is currently present in New York.
This week Ban who was present at the African Union summit warned that Bashir must adhere to any decision made by the ICC.
“He [Bashir] should fully cooperate with the decision of the ICC” Ban told a press conference on the sidelines of the summit.
Arab, Islamic and African countries have called on the UN Security Council (UNSC) to defer the indictment to so as not to jeopardize the peace process.
The warrant may make it difficult and even embarassing for world officials to meet with Al-Bashir or to receive him on their territories.
European Union (EU) laws prohibit their officials from meeting with individuals charged by the ICC.
The UN and many other Western embassies in the Sudanese capital have created security plans aimed at protecting their staff from any possible backlash following the decision.
Sudanese officials have pledged to ensure safety of Western missions and UN staff but cautioned that they may not be able to control any outlaws.
The UN Security Council (UNSC) issued resolution 1593 under chapter VII in March 2005 referring the situation in Darfur to the ICC following recommendation a UN commission of inquiry into abuses committed in the war ravaged region.
“We support the ICC and its pursuit of those who’ve perpetrated war crimes. We see no reason to support deferral [of the indictment] at this time,” said Ben Chang, a spokesman for Mr. Obama’s national security adviser, retired Marine Gen. James L. Jones.
Mr. Obama gave his support for an arrest warrant — which could be handed down within days — despite concerns that pursuing charges against Gen. Bashir could provoke Khartoum to retaliate against humanitarian groups and plunge the country into even more bloodshed and chaos.
Top Obama administration officials such as Susan Rice, the newU.S. ambassador to the United Nations, have long advocated a hard line toward the Bashir regime. Ms. Rice, who worked on peacekeeping issues in the Clinton White House and as assistant secretary of state for African affairs during President Clinton’s second term, is said to have been scarred by the U.S. and international failure to prevent the 1994 Rwandan genocide, in which nearly 1 million people were killed.
Top regional specialists who have participated in negotiations with Khartoum caution that support for the Bashir arrest warrant would send the Obama administration down a path of confrontation that could further destabilize Sudan and say it isn’t clear how authorities would carry out the arrest.
“Hold off this loopy idea of prosecuting the head of state who has signed the absolutely pivotal peace agreement,” said Alex de Waal, an Africa specialist who advised Robert B. Zoellick, who was a U.S. envoy to Sudan during talks that led to a 2005 treaty between the Muslim north and the Christian and animist south.
“How do you negotiate with someone and then say, ‘We’re going to drag you off to jail?’ ” Mr. de Waal asked. “The guy’s a criminal, but that’s not the point.”
Humanitarian groups working with some of the 2.5 million people displaced by the fighting in Darfur are concerned that Gen. Bashir will retaliate against them.
“We are worried that an indictment might lead to violence and are taking every step possible to try to mitigate against that risk,” said Sam Worthington, president of InterAction, a coalition of 175 nongovernmental organizations that work in developing nations.
MOSCOW, Russia (CNN) — A Russian-led bloc of post-Soviet nations has agreed to establish a rapid-reaction military force to combat terrorists and respond to regional emergencies, Russian media reported Wednesday.
Russian navy soldiers stand guard during a military ceremony.
The decision came a day after reports that Kyrgyzstan is planning to close a strategically important U.S. military base that Washington uses to transport troops and supplies into Afghanistan.
On Wednesday, the Collective Security Treaty Organization — made up of Russia, Armenia, Belarus, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Uzbekistan and Tajikistan — decided on the rapid-reaction force at a Kremlin summit, the Russian news agency RIA-Novosti reported.
The group’s security council “spent a long time discussing the central issue of forming collective reaction forces and, generally, of rapid reaction to possible threats,” said Russian President Dmitry Medvedev, according to Russian news agency Interfax.
“Everyone agreed that the formation of joint forces is necessary,” he said.
Officials told Russian media that all the members had signed the agreement, though Uzbekistan submitted a special provision.
Uzbekistan doesn’t mind contributing military units to the rapid-reaction force “but does not consider it necessary for the moment” to attach emergency responders, drug-control forces and other special services, organization spokesman Vitaly Strugovets told Interfax.
Russian media reported that the force will be used to fight military aggressors, conduct anti-terror operations, battle regional drug trafficking and respond to natural disasters. The force will be based in Russia under a single command, with member nations contributing military units.
On Tuesday, Kyrgyz President Kurmanbek Bakiyev announced at a Moscow news conference that “all due procedures” were being initiated to close Manas Air Base, RIA-Novosti reported. The announcement was made after news reports of a multimillion-dollar aid package from Russia to Kyrgyzstan.
Gen. David Petraeus, who oversees U.S. operations in the Middle East and Central Asia, including Afghanistan, was in Kyrgyzstan last month, partly to lobby the government to allow the United States to keep using the base. He said he and Kyrgyz leaders did not discuss “at all” the possible closure of the base and said local officials told him there was “no foundation” for news reports about the issue.
The United States is planning to send an additional 30,000 troops to Afghanistan to halt a resurgence of the Taliban. Petraeus described Manas as having “an important role in the deployment of these forces” and in refueling aircraft.
The relationship between the United States and Kyrgyzstan was damaged when a Kyrgyz citizen was killed by a U.S. airman in December 2006. The airman was transferred out of Kyrgyzstan, and the dead man’s family was offered compensation. Petraeus said in January that the investigation was being reopened.
As he announced the base closure Tuesday, Bakiyev said he was not satisfied with the inquiry into the accident and his government’s “inability to provide security to its citizens” was proving a serious concern.
Medvedev also weighed in on the issue Wednesday, saying the base closure shouldn’t hamper anti-terrorism operations, according to Interfax.
“It would be great if their numbers meant there were fewer terrorists, but such action depends on other things as well,” he said.
ATLANTA, Georgia (CNN) — Ann Nixon Cooper craned her neck and leaned her head forward. On the television set across the room, Barack Obama moved forward and put his hand on the Bible.
Ann Nixon Cooper, 107, watched the inauguration from her Atlanta home: “I’m most excited.”
At 107 years old, Cooper said she always believed she might live to see a black man sworn in as president of the United States.
“I had that in mind all the time — all the time — hoping for a great change that would happen in my day,” she said, a charm necklace with a gold “107” around her neck.
“I was hoping that it would happen in my time.”
This moment in history, she said, marks one of the greatest days of her event-filled life.
“I’m most excited about it … just nothing but the greatest,” she said, a wide smile spread across her face. “Our new president means nothing but more freedom as a human being. That’s all. That’s all it could mean to us. You feel more like a real person.” Watch Cooper’s reaction »
She knew the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr. when he was just a boy in Atlanta. Today, she said, “he would be most happy.”
She added, “That’s all I looked forward to: better days, because we’ve never known any better days. But now, you see, we can live like real people.”
The African-American centenarian, three grandsons and her caretaker gathered in her quiet Atlanta home to watch the inauguration of the nation’s first African-American president. When Obama began heading toward the ceremony, she asked not to be bothered. “I’ve got to be concentrating,” she said with a smile. Watch “Hope over fear” »
Ignoring Problames of one region can spread all over southsudan
December 10, 2008 (WASHINGTON) – The US President George Bush expressed frustration at the rate of deployment of peacekeepers in Darfur and concluded by stating that Sudan’s ruler will be held responsible for the conflict in the region.Sudanese President Omer Hassan Al-Bashir is wanted by the ICC prosecutor on ten counts of war crimes, crimes against humanity and genocide. The U.S. has threatened to block efforts in the UN Security Council to suspend the case against Bashir.
Bush said, “it’s very important for President Bashir of Sudan to know that he cannot escape accountability; that if he so choose, he could change people’s lives, the condition of people’s lives very quickly.”
The statement resembles previous positions taken by U.S. officials that coupled the ICC issue with demands that Sudanese authorities work to improve security and humanitarian aid in Darfur, the westernmost region of Sudan.
But it also represents a much more forceful position on the ICC case than previously articulated by the president. When asked about the indictment in July, Bush said, “Well, we’re not a member of the ICC, so we’ll see how that plays out.”
The comment follows a similar warning from the French president on Monday, who said “We need the help of the Sudanese government to finally find peace in Darfur. But President Bashir has very little time to decide, his fate is in his hands.”
If the court issues an indictment, there could be “serious consequences” for the UN Mission in Sudan (UNMIS), said senior Sudanese government officials in direct warnings to the UN secretary-general and his special representative. UNMIS is tasked with monitoring the north-south peace agreement, which was signed in 2005 after the war in Darfur had already begun.
The Bush administration has pushed for a 26,000-strong peacekeeping force in Darfur, about half of which is currently in place. Deployment of the joint UN-African Union force is slowed by insecurity, according to the UN secretary-general’s latest report on the mission, which pointed to a backlog aggravated by trucking contractors’ fear of attacks.
The United Nations has for months been seeking six attack and 18 transport helicopters to support the force. But US special envoy to Sudan Richard Williamson told UN chief last March that the UN should not be hung on the issue of helicopters needed by the Darfur force.