CAIRO - Egypt has mounted a campaign to have the International Criminal Court (ICC) warrant for the arrest of Sudanese President Omar Al-Bashir suspended. The warrant was issued March 4 in connection with charges of war crimes in Darfur, it’s ICC’s first for a sitting president. Spokesman for the Egyptian Foreign Ministry Hossam Zaki said Egypt hoped to have ICC proceedings issuing from the indictment postponed for one year. Arab and African negotiators are on their way to New York, said Zaki, to urge the UN Security Council to invoke Article 16 of the constitution of the Court for a stay on the proceedings.
Egyptian Foreign Minister Ahmed Abu Gheit said that the arrest of Al-Bashir would jeopardise current efforts being made to secure an end to the crisis in Darfur in western Sudan and he called on the Security Council to exercise its responsibility to preserve peace and security there.
Political commentators in Egypt have warned of the possible negative repercussions involving Egypt’s national security if Al-Bashir is detained. Dr Hani Raslan of the Al-Ahram Centre for Political and Strategic Studies contends his arrest would result in a deterioration of the security situation on the Sudanese-Egyptian border and the Red Sea coast. Raslan also points out that a concentration of political power in southern Sudan would be capable of manipulating the flow of Nile waters to put political and economic pressure on Egypt. He asserted that Egypt’s awareness of these dangers prompted the country’s request for a stay of the warrant.
According to spokeswoman for the Court Laurence Blairon, there are grounds to suspect that Al-Bashir is responsible for directing deliberate attacks against a sector of the population of Darfur. She added that the 65-year-old Al-Bashir would be charged with five counts of committing crimes against humanity and two counts of committing war crimes.
Elaborating, Blairon said Al-Bashir was responsible “for campaigns of extermination, rape, and mass expulsions of civilians” in the western part of Sudan. The six-year-old struggle in Sudan has cost hundreds of thousands of lives.