Bashir 'must face Darfur charges'
Ahead of polls, southern Sudan government official urges president to go to Hague.
Last Modified: 23 Mar 2010 09:57 GMT
The call for al-Bashir to appear before the ICC came as donors met in Cairo to help war-torn Darfur [AFP]

A senior member of the Sudan People's Liberation Movement (SPLM) has called for the country's president to face war crimes charges at the International Criminal Court (ICC).

Speaking just weeks before the Sudan's first parliamentary elections in 24 years, Edward Lino told Al Jazeera on Sunday that Omar al-Bashir should give himself up to The Hague. 

"We didn't agree with him to go and commit those atrocities in Darfur," he told Al Jazeera.

"We can't agree with him ... he is the one being accused of the crimes. He has to go and clear himself first before he is eligible to be elected again."

Lino said that even if al-Bashir continues his attempts to evade the ICC, "they'll apprehend him unless he dies or commits suicide".

Defiant al-Bashir

The ICC indicted al-Bashir for war crimes in Sudan's Darfur region in March 2009, but he rejects the ICC's sovereignty and has told the Netherlands-based court to "dissolve the charge sheet in water and drink it".

in depth
  Timeline: ICC and Sudan
  Timeline: Darfur crisis
  Profile: Omar al-Bashir
  Riz Khan: Ignoring Sudan?
  Riz Khan: Sudan's interlocking crises
  Inside Story: Sliding back into civil war
  The role of the ICC
  Drought and conflict in South Sudan
  Who are Sudan's Jem rebels?

The SPLM sits in government with al-Bashir's National Congress Party (NCP) after signing a peace agreement with the former southern rebels in 2005.

However, their alliance remains fragile due to delays in implementing the accord.

Lino, the SPLM's candidate to be governor of Khartoum and its veteran head of intelligence, told Al Jazeera that his party did not "have any way" to force al-Bashir to go for trial, but said "the people will make him by failing him in the forthcoming elections".

"There are many dignitaries who were taken and he is not an exception. For the good of the country, al-Bashir should take leave and then go to [The] Hague."

"We'll tell people ... that he cannot be the man to be elected again after having usurped power and committed so many atrocities countrywide, in Darfur in particular, and this is where we are very concerned," he said.

The UN estimates that about 300,000 people have been killed in the Darfur conflict in western Sudan, but Khartoum disputes the toll and maintains only 10,000 died.

If he ever appears before the court, al-Bashir would be the first sitting president to be tried by the ICC.

Donor conference

Lino's remarks came as a major donors conference got under way in Cairo on Sunday, attempting to raise at least $2bn for the reconstruction of war-ravaged Darfur.

Some countries at the meeting made no pledges, saying Darfur was not secure [AFP]

But the meeting, which was organised by the 57-member Organisation of the Islamic Conference (OIC) and co-chaired by Egypt and Turkey, raised just $841m for projects such as cement plants and roads - less than half of the target.

Abdel Malik al-Naeem, the media adviser for the Sudanese delegation, said: "What is more important is that the international community has pledged support to the Sudanese government in order to achieve peace in Darfur."

The US, Canada, Norway and Britain did not pledge at the meeting, saying the region was not secure enough for the proposed work.

Qatar, which has been mediating peace talks between Darfur rebel factions and the Sudanese government, pledged $200m.

That pledge follows a $1bn pledge Qatar made at the recent signing of a ceasefire agreement between Darfur's Justice and Equality Movement (Jem) and the Khartoum government.

Multi-party polls

Sudan is to hold its first multi-party elections on April 11. Polls will be held for the national presidency and parliament, the south Sudanese presidency, state governorships, the southern parliament and state assemblies.

The SPLM has previously been careful not to provoke al-Bashir's dominant NCP on the sensitive issue of the ICC, hoping to preserve their partnership until a January 2011 southern referendum on secession, guaranteed by the 2005 peace deal.

But in remarks likely to provoke further confrontation, Yasir Arman, the SPLM presidential candidate, on Saturday challenged al-Bashir to stand down from the presidential poll to encourage southerners to vote for unity in the 2011 referendum.

"We call the NCP for a new partnership where Bashir would step down from the candidacy and there would be a national consensus coalition," Arman told reporters in Khartoum.

Al-Bashir is keen to win the presidential vote to legitimise his government in defiance of the ICC warrant.

Arman said the SPLM was the only party able to lead a united Sudan and that a vote for al-Bashir would lead to secession.

Al Jazeera and agencies
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