Sudan to Eritrea: Stop backing rebels

Already tense relations between neighbouring Eritrea and Sudan have deteriorated sharply, with the two countries trading bitter threats and accusations over eastern Sudanese rebels fighting the Khartoum government.

    The Eastern Front launched its first offensive on 19 June

    Sudanese Foreign Minister Mustafa Osman Ismail on Wednesday asked the international community to put an end to what he called Eritrean "activities" and support for anti-Khartoum rebels in the eastern part of Sudan, Aljazeera reported.

    "If Eritrea carries on with this behaviour, the international community should expect escalation," Ismail said on the sidelines of a meeting of Islamic foreign ministers in Sanaa, Yemen.

    "There is a limit to Sudan's policy of self-restraint," Aljazeera quoted him as saying.

    Shortly before Ismail spoke, a senior official with the Eastern Front told AFP that Sudanese war planes were intentionally harrassing and frightening civilians in Red Sea state as a prelude to new aerial bombing.

    Spreading terror

    Asmara-based Salah Barqueen said MiG-29s and Antonovs were overflying the Barka Valley "spreading terror and scaring civilians".

    "If the flying doesn't stop, we will find ourselves compelled to respond with special treatment according to their aggression," he said. "The flying is an indication they will bomb again."

    The Eastern Front accuses Sudan
    authorities of bombing civilians

    The Eastern Front, which launched its first offensive against government positions south of Port Sudan in Red Sea state on 19 June, earlier accused the Sudanese air force of bombing civilians in a bid to stop their attacks.

    Meanwhile, on the Darfur front, talks between Sudan's government and two Sudanese rebel groups, which were held in Abuja, Nigeria, appeared headed for a deadlock, with differences emerging between the latter two, according to Aljazeera.

    A rebel group that broke away from Sudan's Liberation Movement (SLM) in Darfur has dismissed the head of the movement, Abd al-Wahid Muhammad Nour.

    Aljazeera said quoting the group that it would not recognise any agreement signed by Nour.

    Demands rejected

    SLM's spokesman said there were real divisions within the movement.

    The Justice and Equality Movement (JEM), Khalil Ibrahim, underwent a similar split when a faction refused to recognise him as the movement's head.

    Foreign Minister Ismail accuses
    Eritrea of backing rebel groups

    However, the African Union has rejected the demands of breakway groups and insisted on the continuation of negotiations, Aljazeera added.

    In a separate development, an International Criminal Court prosecutor said on Wednesday Sudan has promised to prosecute murder and rape suspects in Darfur but key perpetrators may not be among those Khartoum plans to put on trial.

    Darfur is the first case the UN Security Council has referred to the new ICC but Sudan has said it would not extradite anyone. Instead Khartoum announced it would hold its own trials of 160 alleged suspects.

    In a report in advance of his first appearance before the Security Council on Wednesday, prosecutor Luis Moreno-Ocampo said any Sudanese trial probably would not conflict with an ICC investigation

    aimed at "prosecuting persons most responsible for crimes".

    Darfur case

    Moreno-Ocampo said that in Sudan there appeared to be an "absence of criminal proceedings relating to the cases on which the Office of the Prosecutor is likely to focus".

    Moreno-Ocampo has received 2500 items, including documents, video footage and interview transcripts as well as a list of 51 suspects, including army and government officials, from a UN-appointed International Commission of Inquiry.

    "There is a limit to Sudan's policy of
    self-restraint"

    Mustafa Osman Ismail,
    Sudanese Foreign Minister

    An estimated 180,000 people have died in the Darfur, in Sudan's west, and two million have fled their homes to escape slaughter, pillaging and rape in what the US has termed "acts of genocide".

    The fledgling ICC, the world's first permanent criminal court, was created to try perpetrators of war crimes, crimes against humanity and genocide. It is a tribunal of last resort when local judicial systems are unable or unwilling to do so.

    But Moreno-Ocampo said once he had completed his investigation, his office would determine whether any ICC cases were "the subject of genuine national" prosecutions in Sudan.

    Moreno-Ocampo, 52, an Argentinian, prosecuted generals in his country's Dirty War in 1985, when wounds from the 1976-1983 government were still fresh. As many as 30,000 people were killed or disappeared.

    SOURCE: Aljazeera + Agencies


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