[JURIST] South African President Thabo Mbeki [official profile] spoke out Tuesday against an International Criminal Court indictment of Sudanese President Omar al-Bashir [BBC profile; JURIST news archive], telling reporters [AP report] that the move will jeopardize stability in the Darfur region [JURIST news archive]. Mbeki and Bashir issued a joint statement [text] following two days of meetings, focusing in part on possible negative repercussions of an ICC action:
[T]he Pre-Trial Chamber of the application by the International Criminal Court Chief Prosecutor could seriously undermine the ongoing efforts aimed at facilitating the early resolution of the conflict in Darfur and the promotion of long-lasting peace and reconciliation in the Sudan as a whole and, as a result, may lead to further suffering of the people of the Sudan and greater destabilisation with far-reaching consequences for the country and the region.Mbeki instead backed Bashir's People of Sudan Initiative, a political solution seeking "participation of all Sudanese political spectrum including rebel movements, tribal leaders and civil society organisations." The presidents also called for international support of African Union (AU) [official website] troops deployed to Darfur. The South African Star has more.
In July, ICC Chief Prosecutor Luis Moreno-Ocampo applied for a warrant to arrest Bashir [JURIST report] on charges of genocide, crimes against humanity and war crimes for atrocities committed in Darfur. Last month, Bashir threatened to ignore any ICC-issued arrest warrant, saying he would not "deal with or respond to" the ICC. Moreno-Ocampo has criticized Sudan's own investigation [JURIST reports] of war crimes in Darfur, calling it "part of the cover-up." Sudan's justice minister recently appointed several prosecutors to locally investigate and try war crimes suspects in internationally monitored courts [JURIST reports]. Moreno-Ocampo's warrant application has been sharply criticized by the AU and Arab League [official website, in Arabic], among others, which believe that the move threatens to destabilize the region and poses a risk to joint AU-UN peacekeeping forces in the country.