Bashir arrest ‘to be outside Sudan’

Prosecutor’s comments come in advance of ruling on warrant for Sudanese president.

African Union troops under UN command in Sudan
The UN missions in Sudan do not have a mandateto arrest al-Bashir if a warrant is issued [EPA]

The ICC is expected to announce its decision on Wednesday.

The decision of the judges is set to be announced at 1300 GMT at a press conference in The Hague, the seat of the court.  

If the warrant is granted and an arrest carried out, the  65-year-old al-Bashir would become the first head of state to be hauled  before the ICC since the court opened its doors in 2002.

Al-Bashir has dismissed the charges against him and refuses to recognise the ICC.

Strong evidence

Moreno-Ocampo also told reporters that strong evidence had been compiled against al-Bashir.

“We have strong evidence against Bashir,” he said.

“We have more than 30 different witnesses who will present how he [al-Bashir] managed and controlled everything.”

UN officials say that as many as 300,000 people have been killed in the Darfur conflict since 2003, while Khartoum says only 10,000 have died.

A further 2.7 million people are estimated to have been uprooted by the conflict, which began when mostly non-Arab fighters took up arms against the government, demanding better representation and infrastructure for their region.

Braced for backlash

In Sudan, Alain Le Roy, the head of UN peacekeeping operations, said that UN forces were preparing for possible violence if the ICC issues an arrest warrant for al-Bashir, but that he did not expect UN forces to be targeted.

“We have contingency planning to try to react to any situation,” he said on Monday.

“We have strong evidence against Bashir. We have more than 30 different witnesses who will present how he [al-Bashir] managed and controlled everything”

Luis Moreno-Ocampo, International Criminal Court chief prosecutor

Le Roy said that the two UN missions in Sudan – one in Darfur and the other monitoring a 2005 north-south peace deal – would neither move nor change their normal patrolling activities whatever the ICC judges ruled.

“We have contingency planning to try to react to any situation,” he said.

“A decision which might affect the president of the country might have an effect on the ground, so it’s important for us to be ready to answer … We’ll have to see how we’ll react. I cannot give you the detail of what we are going to do,” he said.

Neither of the UN peacekeeping missions in Sudan have a mandate to arrest al-Bashir, Le Roy said.

But one of Darfur’s main rebel groups has offered to assist any arrest effort.

“Bashir must go before the ICC, whether voluntarily or against his will,” Khalil Ibrahim, head of the Justice and Equality Movement (JEM), said.

‘Violence and crime’

Ibrahim has accused Sudan’s government of planning riots if ICC issues an arrest warrant, and said that his group would respond to any government orchestrated violence.

“They are planning demonstrations … I expect there may be violence and crime. I warn the government that any such action will be met with counter-measures, even in Khartoum. Violence will be met with violence,” Ibrahim said.

“Any loss of lives or property is their responsibility.”

China, the African Union and the Arab League have warned it could destabilise the region and threaten a troubled peace deal between north Sudan and the semi-autonomous south.

Foreign ministers for Arab countries will discuss their possible response to an arrest warrant for al-Bashir at a meeting in Cairo.

Some Western embassies have warned their citizens of the potential for violent protests if al-Bashir is charged.

Source: Al Jazeera, News Agencies