Sudan's President Bashir defies warrant, expels aid groups
Aid agencies warn of a humanitarian disaster as Omar al-Bashir calls the arrest warrant a "conspiracy."
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Sudanese President Omar al-Bashir struck a defiant note Thursday in his first public remarks since the International Criminal Court (ICC) issued an arrest warrant for him Wednesday. His government ordered 13 aid agencies to leave the country.
That reaction ratchets up the confrontation between Sudan and the ICC, and has already stirred fears of a humanitarian disaster.
Mr. Bashir faces five counts of crimes against humanity and two counts of war crimes for atrocities in Darfur (see a map of the region here.) He's the first sitting president to be so charged. (See a StudioBendib political cartoon on Bashir's indictment here.)
CNN and other media reported that Bashir danced and smiled Thursday in Khartoum, in an appearance before large crowds that gathered for a second day of protests against the arrest warrant.
Angry crowds gathered in north Darfur and Khartoum to protest the arrest warrant just hours after it was issued, according to The Christian Science Monitor.
The Associated Press reports that Bashir said the warrant was part of a conspiracy meant to destabilize Sudan and derail Darfur peace talks.
Reuters reports that Sudan has ordered 13 humanitarian aid agencies expelled from the country since the ICC announced the arrest warrant, and that Sudanese authorities have already begun removing computers and other assets from the groups' offices. The Associated Press reported that the aid agencies on Thursday began preparations for leaving the country. The groups include Oxfam, CARE, and Save the Children.
The Christian Science Monitor reports that the warrant could spark unrest in Sudan.
Meanwhile, Agence France-Presse reports that the African Union (AU) had gone into an emergency meeting over the arrest warrant for Bashir, which the union says "will hurt an faltering peace process in the troubled country."
Regional and global reaction to the warrant against Bashir continued Thursday. The United States backed the court's decision in comments from Secretary of State Hillary Clinton Thursday, according to Reuters.
China called on the ICC Thursday to halt its case against the accused war criminal "for the time being," according to Al Jazeera.
Agence France-Presse reported that South Africa expressed "regret" over the decision, and said the warrant would have a negative impact on peace talks. But one prominent South African disagreed.