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Sudanese President begins new five-year term despite arrest warrant for war crimes

Sudan's president Omar al-Bashir, the only world leader facing an international arrest warrant, was sworn in for another five-year term yesterday.

At his inauguration ceremony in the national parliament, the President pledged Sudan would not return to war and that an independence referendum in the country's south would be held next year as planned.

President Bashir is sought by the International Criminal Court in The Hague for allegedly masterminding atrocities in Darfur. Sudan does not recognise the tribunal and has refused to co-operate.

The inauguration in Khartoum came a day after the ICC reported Sudan to the UN Security Council for refusing to arrest two other Sudanese officials. The two are also suspected of war crimes in Darfur, where fighting between government and rebel forces has killed 300,000 people.

Mr Bashir, who came to power 21 years ago in a military coup, got a comfortable majority in the April elections, winning 68 per cent of more than 10 million valid ballots. His victory was widely expected after his most credible challengers pulled out of the race to protest against alleged fraud.