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Sudan's Troubles Bring Arrest Warrant for Pres. Al-Bashir

By Carol Forsloff     Mar 5, 2009 in World
The International Court has issued a warrant for the arrest of the President of Sudan, Omar Al-Bashir for war crimes and crimes against humanity. This is the first time since the inception of the Court that a head of state has been indicted.
The Court was created in 2002 to examine and try cases that are considered war crimes or crimes against humanity. Certainly there are appear grounds for this indictment if the charges as documented are correct. He is charged specifically as being chiefly responsible for the mastermind of murder, rape and torture of the civilian population. Still the charges of genocide were not given.
Omar Hassan Ahmad al-Bashir , age 65, has been in power since 1989 when he took over following a military coup that removed Prime Minister Sadiq al-Mahdi who had been democratically elected. He then helped end a civil war in his country, giving Southern Sudan a form of independence, but his government is accused of ethnic cleansing that targets non-Arabs in the area known as Darfur, leading to death tollls ranging to nearly half a million people. Under his rule the country is said to have descended into chaos. He denies the charges against him. This is what he said about some of them, according to Time magazine: “Yes, there have been villages burned, but not to the extent you are talking about. People have been killed because there is war. It is not in the Sudanese culture or people of Darfur to rape. It doesn't exist. We don't have it."
— On the conflict in Darfur
NBC News, March 20, 2007
It is unlikely, for a number of reasons, that al-Bashir will be brought to trial anytime soon, according to sources. That is because the ICC has no wherewithal to perform an arrest nor are there U.N. Peacekeepers to help enforce the warrant. The ambassador to Sudan casually responded, when hearing of the accusations against al-Bashir and the warrant to have him arrested, "For us, the ICC doesn't exist."
These have been terrible times for the country of Sudan, that has seen instability, poverty and murder for years. In 2004 the heads of state in many of the African countries were so concerned about the Sudan, particularly Darfur, that they called for an investigation by international bodies. They were specifically worried about the humanitarian crisis in that country. In that year it was reported that an estimated one million people had become homeless because of the fighting that was going on between African rebels and Arabs in the region. The Arab militia, called the Janjaweed was reputed to be involved in a program of killing, looting and raping in the Sudan.
Under a comprehensive peace agreement in 2007 Sudan was to undergo a series of steps in preparation for its census vote for the establishment of a stable government that would include programs of education and training for election monitors. The hope is that electilons will bring about a measure of calm and responsible government.
The crisis in Darfur has produced strong advocates to plead for the victims. Academy Award winning actor George Clooney recently met with President Barack Obama and Vice President Joe Biden surrounding the crisis in the region of Sudan called Darfur where people have lived in terror and near starvation for years. Clooney has asked for a full time, high level envoy to the region to help bring about the stability necessary in the region.
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