- The Washington Times - Tuesday, July 15, 2008

UNITED NATIONS | U.N. peacekeeping forces and humanitarian groups in Darfur are bracing for attacks from Sudanese forces and allied Janjaweed militias in retaliation for the indictment of Sudanese President Omar al-Bashir issued Monday by the International Criminal Court (ICC) in The Hague.

Sudan’s government reacted with fury to a 10-count indictment of war crimes and crimes against humanity by ICC prosecutor Luis Moreno-Ocampo. Mr. Moreno-Ocampo accused Mr. al-Bashir of “genocide.”

“We condemn this indictment against our head of state,” Sudanese Ambassador Abdalmahmood Abdalhaleem Mohamad told The Washington Times. “This is an affront to the president and the whole nation. It will have bad, destabilizing and negative consequences for the peace process for Darfur and Sudan at large.”

Speaking in Paris, U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon appealed to the Sudanese government to respect and protect peacekeepers and relief workers, while U.N. officials scrambled to evacuate or move personnel to safer locations.

TWT Editorial:Justice for the Sudanese

Mr. Mohamad said there is widespread “disappointment” in the United Nations, for not pressuring the ICC to postpone or cancel the indictment.

Mr. Ban “should have told Moreno-Ocampo to put peace ahead of a politically motivated prosecution,” the ambassador said. “The humanitarian community needs a strong government with a commitment to protect and facilitate their work. Oh, this will have direct and indirect consequences.”

On Saturday, the U.N.-African Union peacekeeping mission in Darfur, called UNAMID, began evacuating non-essential personnel after an attack blamed on Janjaweed militias killed seven peacekeepers earlier in the week.

The African Union on Monday urged the ICC to suspend the order, warning of “widespread anarchy” if Mr. al-Bashir is arrested and extradited to The Hague.

The ICC tribunal does not have soldiers nor can it compel cooperation by a government, such as Sudan, that has not accepted the treaty.

However, Mr. al-Bashir will risk arrest if he travels through or to a country that is a party to the ICC.

State Department spokesman Sean McCormack said the U.S. Embassy had undertaken “appropriate security measures” for American and national staff in Khartoum and the southern capital city, Juba.

Mr. McCormack also said the U.S. had formally reminded the al-Bashir government of its responsibilities to protect diplomats under the Vienna Convention.

U.N. and private relief officials were deciding Monday how to best protect the nearly 1,000 non-Sudanese relief workers and administrators based in Darfur.

Some were to be evacuated to Khartoum or Uganda, while others might be confined to their regional bases.

Some 9,000 police and peacekeepers are participating in UNAMID, tasked with protecting Darfurians from attacks.

About 600 of the international civilian staff are not U.N. employees but working with private relief groups, often using the same offices and vehicles.

The Security Council has the power to stay the indictment indefinitely, if council members believe the ICC’s prosecution will derail or intensify international peace and security efforts.

Mr. Mohamad, the Sudanese ambassador, said he has been speaking to council members, and expected the matter to come up in informal consultations soon.

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