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Sudan president Bashir derides ICC warrant

[JURIST] Sudanese President Omar al-Bashir [ICC materials, PDF; JURIST news archive] on Thursday scoffed at the warrant [text, PDF; ICC release] for his arrest issued by the International Criminal Court (ICC) [official website] earlier this week. Speaking to a crowd of thousands in Khartoum, Bashir said the warrant was an effort by Western countries to reassert colonial power over the country, and criticized the ICC for failing to take action in conflicts in Iraq and the Gaza Strip. Expanding on its earlier reaction [JURIST report] to the warrant, the African Union [official website] announced that it plans to petition [AFP report] the UN to have the warrant for Bashir suspended, sharing with several African and other countries the fear that it could disrupt a peace deal [UN backgrounder] in the country. Human rights groups, however, have reiterated their support for the warrant [HRW report], calling it a step forward in efforts to hold rights violators in Sudan responsible for their actions.

Also Thursday, several humanitarian aid organizations including Oxfam International and Doctors Without Borders [press releases] confirmed that they have been expelled from the country. UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon [official website] has called on Sudan to allow the agencies to remain in the country [press release], voicing concerns that their removal could create a grave humanitarian crisis there.

The warrant for Bashir, issued [decision, PDF; JURIST report] on Wednesday, charged him with seven counts of war crimes and crimes against humanity, but did not include genocide charges. The controversial arrest warrant [JURIST news archive] had been sought by ICC prosecutor Luis Moreno-Ocampo [official profile], who in July filed preliminary charges [text, PDF; JURIST report] against Bashir alleging genocide, crimes against humanity, and war crimes committed in the Darfur region in violation of Articles 6, 7, and 8 of the Rome Statute [text]. The ICC announced last week [JURIST report] that they would decide whether to issue an arrest warrant on Wednesday. The announcement came after the New York Times reported [NYT report] last month that the warrant had been issued, leading a court official quickly to issue a denial [JURIST report].

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