South Sudan's Kiir joins calls to delay ICC warrant

In his first comments on the charges of war crimes, genocide and crimes against humanity facing President Omar Hassan al-Bashir, his south Sudanese counterpart Salva Kiir urged The Hague-based court to defer its decision.

South Sudan's Kiir joins calls to delay ICC warrant
The International Criminal Court should delay the indictment of Sudan's president for war crimes in Darfur to allow time to implement a peace deal with former southern rebels, south Sudan's president has said.

In his first comments on the charges of war crimes, genocide and crimes against humanity facing President Omar Hassan al-Bashir, his south Sudanese counterpart Salva Kiir urged The Hague-based court to defer its decision.

The ICC accuses Bashir of orchestrating a genocide that has killed 35,000 people outright, at least another 100,000 through slow death, and forced 2.5 million from their homes.

"There is no need rushing to take the Sudanese president to the ICC," Kiir, whose is also number two in the Sudanese government, told reporters late on Tuesday during a trip to Uganda.

"The announcement has been made, but we should have time to consult with the rest of Africa and the world," he said.

"The Sudanese government should be allowed to implement the accord signed with the South Sudan government and to negotiate with the fighting forces in Darfur."

Kiir was echoing calls by other African leaders and the peace and security council of the African Union, which asked the United Nations on Monday to delay the indictment for a year.

Bashir was due to travel to Darfur on Wednesday for a two-day visit, his first trip to the region since the ICC move.

The Arab League said on Tuesday that Sudan had agreed to try anyone it suspected of crimes in Darfur in Sudanese courts and would let observers from the United Nations, African Union and Arab League follow the proceedings.

The crisis over Bashir's possible indictment has raised fears for the fragile peace process in Africa's biggest state.

Khartoum and oil-producing southern Sudan's rebels signed a peace pact in 2005 that ended more than two decades of civil war that killed 2 million people.

Since then, the southern government and Arab-dominated north have struggled to implement power- and wealth-sharing protocols.

Like the former southern rebels, insurgents in Darfur who have battled Bashir's administration since 2003 accuse the central government of neglect and marginalisation.

International experts say at least 200,000 people have died there and another 2.5 million been driven from their homes.

Reuters
Last Mod: 23 Temmuz 2008, 14:08
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