20 Jul 2008

Criticism of move to seek arrest of Sudanese president

4:50 pm on 20 July 2008

The Arab League has sharply criticised a move by the chief prosecutor at the International Criminal Court (ICC) to seek the arrest of the Sudanese president, on charges of war crimes and genocide in Darfur.

The chief prosecutor of the ICC, Luis Moreno-Ocampo, has asked the court for a warrant for President Omar al-Bashir on suspicion of masterminding crimes against humanity in his country's troubled Darfur region.

But Arab foreign ministers, holding an emergency meeting in Cairo, said the court's actions set a dangerous precedent and would undermine Sudan's sovereignty.

The foreign ministers said Arab League Secretary-General Amr Moussa would head to Khartoum on Sunday to inform the Sudanese leadership of a plan to defuse the crisis.

General Moussa said he would announce the details within two days.

Mr Moreno-Ocampo accused Bashir of running a campaign of genocide that killed 35,000 people outright, at least another 100,000 through a "slow death" and forced 2.5 million to flee their homes in Darfur.

The final communique of the Arab League meeting said the ministers "called for giving the priority for political settlement ... and called for an international high-profile summit to push the political process in Darfur."