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Sudan President Vows Not to Cooperate with World Court

By Margaret Besheer
06 June 2008

Sudan's President has told a U.N. Security Council delegation that his country will not cooperate with the International Criminal Court, which has accused his government of being involved in crimes in Darfur. The president met with the visiting delegation late Thursday in Khartoum, after the ambassadors returned from a brief visit to the war-torn Darfur region. VOA's Margaret Besheer is traveling with the delegation and files this report from the Sudanese capital.

During an hour and a half long meeting with the visiting ambassadors, President Omar al-Bashir told them he would not cooperate with the court, which is seeking the arrest of two Sudanese - a government minister and a militia commander - on charges of war crimes, and which just announced it would bring new charges against senior government members for involvement in crimes in Darfur.

British Ambassador John Sawers said the council raised the subject of the court with Mr. Bashir and asked for Sudan's cooperation and arrest of the two men. "His response was that Sudan was not a party to the ICC and would not hand over any of its citizens to international courts," he said.

Security Council members and the ICC say Sudan must comply under the terms U.N. resolution 1593 which demands the government's compliance with the court. Diplomats said they would consider other measures to press Sudan to cooperate.

Sawers said the council raised several other issues with the Sudanese president, including full implementation of the 2005 peace deal that ended the north-south civil war, and which some observers worry could unravel in the wake of recent violence such as the clashes in the disputed oil-rich region of Abyei that displaced tens of thousands of people.

In a statement at the beginning of the meeting, President Bashir said the dispute over Abyei would be settled very soon. "I am pleased to inform you that it will soon be settled through consultations between the two partners," he said.

South Africa's Ambassador, Dumisani Kumalo, told reporters that without going into details, President Bashir said an agreement has been worked out. He told the delegation it would be sent to the parliament in the semi-autonomous south on Friday, and that by June 10 it would be finalized.

The council also raised concerns about attacks on humanitarian convoys in Darfur, which have forced the World Food Program to cut rations in half because they cannot get adequate food supplies to the conflict zone.

The delegation heard more about these difficulties earlier in the day, when they flew to ElFasher in North Darfur, where they made a very brief stop at a camp that houses more than 54,000 displaced persons.

Leaders and elected representatives of the Zam Zam IDP camp met privately for about half an hour with the ambassadors. The delegation also met with the local governor and had lunch with humanitarian workers. The brief stop was intended to give the delegation a better sense of the situation on the ground in Darfur.

Friday, the Security Council crosses the border to Chad, where they will visit refugee and IDP camps in Goz Beida before meeting with President Idriss Deby in the capital Friday evening.

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