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Bashir’s indictment would overthrow Darfur peace process – Taha

Bashir’s indictment would overthrow Darfur peace process – Taha

September 25, 2008 (NEW YORK) — Sudan’s Vice President Ali Osman Taha has urged the United Nations to defer the prosecution of President Omer Al-Bashir on charges of Darfur crimes saying it could bring down efforts for peace.

The ICC’s prosecutor Luis Moreno-Ocampo filed 10 charges: three counts of genocide, five of crimes against humanity and two of murder. It was only last week that judges have started reviewing the case in a process that could possibly drag on to the end of the year.

Speaking to the U.N. Assembly General today Taha said that the no peace could be reached if the international community didn’t stop the application of arrest warrant filed by the prosecutor Luis Moreno-Ocampo to the pre-trial chamber of International Criminal Court (ICC).

“Realisation of peace in Darfur and in Sudan, and the steps taken by the prosecutor-general of the ICC are two parallel lines that can never meet,” said Taha at the end of 15 minutes speech before the Assembly General.

The Vice-President said Ocampo charges would hinder the implementation of the Comprehensive Peace Agreement. He presented the Sudanese President as a man who works to implement peace and conducts democratic transition in the country.

“The arrest request targeting the country’s leader, symbol of its sovereignty and dignity, is a failed attempt at political and moral assassination and derailing the peace process,” he said.

He also reiterated the commitment of the Sudanese government to the Darfur peace process, and accused ICC move of hindering t this efforts because its encourage rebels to not take part in the negotiations he said.

“We would like to stress anew from this podium our complete commitment to achieving a peaceful and political settlement to the Darfur issue,” the vice president added.

Under the Rome Statue, the treaty governing the ICC, the U.N. Security Council can invoke Article 16 of the treaty to suspend jurisdiction of the court in a case for up to one year that can be renewed indefinitely.

However such a resolution requires the affirmative votes of 9 UNSC members without a veto from a permanent member of the council.

Yesterday the U.S. Special envoy to Sudan said the United States will veto any UN Security Council resolution that defers the ICC indictment of S President Al-Bashir.

“If asked—if forced to vote today—the United States, even if it was 191 countries against one, would veto an Article 16 [resolution],” Ambassador Richard Williamson said at a hearing of the US Commission on International Religious Freedom, on Wednesday.

The Vice President urged the international community to meet their pledge made at Oslo summits in 2004 and 2008. He also urged the U.S. to lift its economic sanctions on Sudan.

“We also call for lifting of unilateral sanctions against our country that defeat the real purpose for comprehensive peace, which is that Sudanese citizens enjoying the fruits of peace,” Taha said.