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Report: Sudanese presidents party says his indictment could increase Darfur violence
Mideast Sudan Darfu 5185788
Pro-government demonstrators, holding a placard referring to International Criminal Court (ICC) prosecutor Luis Moreno-Ocampo, protest against the possibility that Sudanese President Omar al-Bashir could be indicted for crimes against humanity and genocide by the ICC, outside a cabinet meeting attended by the president in Khartoum, Sudan, Sunday, July 13, 2008. A prosecutor at the International Criminal Court is expected to seek an arrest warrant Monday charging the Sudanese President with orchestrating violence in Darfur that has left hundreds of thousands of people dead since 2003. - photo by Associated Press
    KHARTOUM, Sudan — Sudan’s ruling party warned Sunday there will be more violence in Darfur if the country’s president is indicted for crimes against humanity and genocide as hundreds of people rallied in Khartoum to show their support for the longtime leader.
    A prosecutor at the International Criminal Court is expected to seek an arrest warrant Monday charging President Omar al-Bashir with orchestrating violence in Darfur that has left hundreds of thousands of people dead since 2003.
    In Sudan, the ruling National Congress Party called the case against the al-Bashir ‘‘irresponsible cheap political blackmail’’ that has no legal basis, according to a statement from the party that was broadcast on state TV. It also warned there would be ‘‘more violence and blood’’ in Darfur if an arrest warrant is issued against the president, TV reported.
    Al-Bashir huddled with Cabinet ministers and advisers Sunday, weighing how the government would response to any action taken by the ICC. Sudan has also asked the Arab League for an emergency meeting of Arab foreign ministers.
    Outside the meeting, hundreds of Sudanese, many carrying flags and pro-government banners, demonstrated to show their support for al-Bashir, who seized power in a 1989 coup. Others held signs ridiculing the ICC and its prosecutor, Luis Moreno-Ocampo of Argentina. ‘‘Ocampo is a plotter against Sudan’s people,’’ one banner read.
    Al-Bashir briefly emerged from the Cabinet meeting and went to the roof of the building to wave at the cheering crowd. He did not say anything.
    Sudan’s state TV said the protest was organized by Sudanese labor groups.
    ‘‘The different worker organizations are standing against any plot targeting the national sovereignty and expressing their support to the leadership,’’ the TV said.
    The report also said the country’s Justice Minister Abdel Basset Sabdarat assured the demonstrators that his ministry was ‘‘ready to confront this plot.’’ He did not elaborate.
    One of the participants at the Cabinet meeting, Essam Youssef, told reporters afterward that Sudanese politicians agreed to send ‘‘a strong message to the international community that we stand with all our power against anybody ... who seeks to impose sanctions or target our head of state.’’
    ‘‘This action violates Sudan’s sovereignty and its people’s values and dignity,’’ said Youssef, an ally of al-Bashir who also heads the country’s Muslim Brotherhood movement.
    On Saturday, a government spokesman said al-Bashir’s indictment would be ‘‘disastrous’’ for the region and could affect the work of humanitarian organizations in Sudan.
    Mahjoub Fadul Badry did not specify what actions might be taken, but there are fears the charges could provoke reprisals against international aid workers and the U.N.-African Union peacekeepers that are already experiencing difficulties in doing their work.
    A U.N. spokeswoman said Sunday the peacekeeping force was on security alert but still relying on the Sudanese government for protection inside the country.
    Some foreign staff not directly working on emergency or humanitarian relief operations could be ‘‘temporarily relocated,’’ said Shereen Zorba, deputy UNAMID spokeswoman.
    Zorba stressed that any disruption to humanitarian work in Darfur could have disastrous consequences.
    ‘‘The people of Darfur have already suffered unimaginable suffering and should not be subjected to more tragedy,’’ she said.
    Seven UNAMID peacekeepers were killed Tuesday when heavily armed fighters attacked them while they were on a patrol in northern Darfur. More than a dozen other peacekeepers were injured in the ambush — the deadliest against the joint U.N.-AU force since it deployed in the remote western Sudanese region earlier this year.
    The ICC, based in The Hague, Netherlands, said Moreno-Ocampo will present evidence of war crimes in Darfur to judges Monday and one or more new suspects would be named. Court officials have refused to identify any of the potential new suspects, but U.N. officials and diplomats have said Moreno-Ocampo will seek an arrest warrant against al-Bashir.
    The prosecutor has clearly indicated that he is aiming for the top leadership of the Sudanese government, accusing them of sponsoring the janjaweed militias who have unleashed a reign of terror on the country’s Darfur region.
    Up to 300,000 people have died and more than 2.5 million have been displaced since the conflict began in early 2003.

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