UN chief insists Sudanese leader must face war crime charges

Addis Ababa- Ethiopia (PANA) -- United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-Moon has asked the Sudanese President Omar El-Bashir to cooperate fully with the Internat i onal Criminal Court (ICC) decision on the war crimes charges on Darfur and urged him to immediately guarantee civilian protection in Darfur.
.
The UN chief said the ICC remained an independent judicial arm of the UN and he was not in a position to seek any deferment of any arrest warrants if it was iss u ed against the Sudanese President.
He also urged the Sudanese leader to guarantee the protection of the joint peace keeping forces in Darfur.
The UN chief spoke as the outgoing African Union (AU) Chairman Jakaya Kikwete, t he Tanzanian president, urged the ICC to slowdown on its efforts to have the Sud a nese leader brought to justice, saying such a move would put millions of lives t o risk.
AU Commission President Jean Ping says the delay in the execution of the arrest warrant should allow the AU to put in place a separate justice system to examine the cases and seek justice.
Sudanese authorities say they will cooperate with the AU efforts to seek justice in Darfur but are unwilling to welcome "any distraction" from the ICC in its ju s tice for Darfur effort.
Sudan argues that any attempt to have President Bashir to face war crimes charge s will challenge the legitimacy of the Sudanese government and its current effor t s to engage rebel groups in an attempt to win peace for Darfur, where millions o f people are displaced and hundreds of thousands have died.
"This factor of the ICC is distinct and separate from the United Nations.
The IC C is an independent judiciary.
I will wait for the independent view of the ICC a s far as the arrest warrant is concerned," Ban told a news conference on the side l ines of the African Union Summit, which formally kicked off Monday.
The African Union Commission has indicated that it will seek a deferment of the ICC verdict under a section of the ICC treaty to allow for at least 12 months fo r the organization to put in place a peace process in Darfur aimed at creating st a bility.
Ping said such a decision would be sought at the United Nations Security Council to allow the organization more time to examine the cases of those accused.
However, Ban said he would not hesitate to ask the Sudanese to withhold an ongoi ng military operation in Darfur and asked the Sudanese authorities to commit to t he peace process and end hostilities.
"Whatever circumstances would be, it would be very important for President Bashi r to react, ensure the safety of the UN peacekeepers and protect the Internally D isplaced people (IDPs) in Darfur and protect the people against human rights vio l ations," he said.
He said the Sudanese leader must also commit to the "faithful" implementation of the north-south peace agreement which ended the war in the Southern Sudan regio n .
Sudanese authorities say they are ready to work with both the UN and the AU to b ring peace to Darfur but will consider the ICC involvement as an unwelcome distr a ction.
"It is a race against the ICC," a Sudanese diplomat told PANA on the current eff orts to form an AU panel to try Darfur cases.
The justice and security panel for Darfur would be led by former South African President Thabo Mbeki.
Ping told African leaders he had written to Mbeki to take over as the chief of t he panel that would help ongoing peace process in Darfur and try to confirm the e xtent of guilt for those accused of crimes.
The UN chief, who spoke earlier at the opening of the 12th session of the AU lea ders meeting, said the Sudanese authorities must cooperate fully with the ICC an d ensure that the other peace agreement reached between Khartoum and Southern Sud a n was fully implemented.
"As we speak here, there is a military operation going on in Darfur.
I urge the Sudan government to immediately stop this military operation.
I have urged the J u stice and Equality Movement (JEM) to stop its military action in Darfur and the S udan government must stop its military operation," the UN chief said.

02 february 2009 18:56:00




xhtml CSS