The international Criminal Court (ICC), Wednesday, issued an international arrest warrant against Omar al-Bachir for war crimes and crimes against humanity in Darfur. Contrary to the demands of Luis Moreno-Ocampo, the court did not retain the genocide charges. Peacekeepers in the country are on alert. They fear possible violent confrontations between the population and the Sudanese army, following the announcement of this decision.
This ruling, for the time being, is only symbolic. Omar al-Bachir himself declared, Tuesday, that the verdict is of “no value” to him. Repeated criticisms and the existence of unequivocal proof from the prosecutor of CII, Luis Moreno-Ocampo, have done little to change the Sudanese president’s attitude. Luis Moreno-Ocampo accuses Omar al-Bachir of genocide against the Four, Masalit and Zaghawa ethnic groups.
Tuesday, tensions were running amok in the east African country as the United Nations braced itself for an eventual violent confrontation. The AFP reported Tuesday that “there is a marked increase in security forces on the ground,” quoting an officer of the United Nations-African Union peacekeeping force in Darfur. According to UN sources, the Sudanese army is anticipating “violent confrontations” in El-Facher, the ancient capital of the Darfur sultanate. Meanwhile, the country’s authorities have warned the local population that whoever speaks in favour of the ICC ruling will be punished.
Omar-al Bachir’s insolent reaction to the ICC ruling could be linked to the political backing he enjoys from his economic partners, who vetoed an arrest warrant against him last July. They include; China, the African Union, Russia, the Arab League, Egypt, France, the United Kingdom and the United States, one of his most faithful allies. Omar al-Bachir’s control of petrol resources from his country has contributed to his vast support base. Some of his supporters have even gone as far as asking the United Nations Security Council to evoke article 16 of the Rome treaty, which obliges the ICC to delay all investigations or prosecution by twelve months, renewable every three years.
Alongside the preservation of their economic interests, countries that support Omar Bachir claim that the steps made towards achieving peace, so far, could be compromised. The intensification of Omar Bachir’s military campaign in the country, on the verge of civil war since 2003, is also to be feared. The conflict has already caused the deaths of over 300,000 people and displaced about 2.5 million persons.
For the time being, Omar al-Bachir is not in the least threatened by the CII decision as he continues his rule unperturbed.