Defiant Bashir exacts revenge on aid groups
Friday 06 March 2009
Omar al-Bashir, the Sudanese President who has been indicted by the International Criminal Court on war crimes charges and crimes against humanity, denounced the tribunal, the United Nations and aid agencies as part of a new "colonialism".
Mr Bashir danced and waved a cane defiantly in the capital, Khartoum, before thousands of supporters, as the arrest warrant, issued on Wednesday, had its first repercussions on the ground.
At least 11 aid agencies were ordered to leave Darfur, a vast, arid region of western Sudan, and aid workers, including health staff, did not show up at camps yesterday. Two million people are dependent on them for food, shelter and medical supplies. At least 2.7 million people have been driven from their homes, most to camps in Darfur and neighbouring Chad, in the war between Darfuri rebels and the government since 2003.
In Zamzam Camp, one of the largest in Darfur, one resident, Ibrahim Safi, 34, said: "After God, we only have the organisations."
Mr Bashir said the aid organisations were trying to disrupt peace efforts, profiting from the conflict and interfering with foreign investment. Hasabo Abdel-Rahman, the government's co-ordinator of agencies' work, said the groups had offered the court "false" testimonies.
The arrest warrant is the ICC's first against a sitting head of state. Mr Bashir has rejected the charges and his government has said it will not co-operate. UN officials said their staff will continue to deal with Mr Bashir because he remains the President.
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