Sudan rejects U.N. resolution on Darfur
The Sudanese government on Sunday rejected a U.N. Security Council resolution that empowers the International Criminal Court to prosecute the alleged perpetrators of atrocities in the Darfur conflict.
President Omar el-Bashir led a Cabinet meeting that denounced Friday's resolution and appointed a committee to work out "how to deal with this situation," acting Information Minister Abdel-Basit Sabdarat told state-run Radio Omdurman. El-Bashir will head the committee, he added.
The western Sudanese region of Darfur has been the scene of what the United Nations has called the world's worst humanitarian crisis. An estimated 180,000 people have died in the upheaval and about 2 million others have been displaced since the conflict began in February 2003.
U.N. Secretary-General Kofi Annan praised the passage of the resolution as lifting "the veil of impunity that has allowed human rights crimes in Darfur to continue unchecked."
Sudan argues it is capable of bringing to justice those responsible for rights abuses in Darfur. But the world does not accept this, partly because a U.N. panel that investigated the conflict found the government itself was implicated in mass killings in Darfur.
In a report issued in February, the U.N. commission recommended that 51 Sudanese ¡ª including high-ranking government officials ¡ª stand trial in the International Criminal Court.
In a statement, the acting information minister said the resolution "violates" Sudanese sovereignty and "will further complicate the problem in Darfur and give the wrong signals to the rebels," Egypt's semiofficial Middle East News Agency reported from Khartoum.
At least one of the Darfur rebel groups supports the resolution. So does Sudan's former prime minister, Sadiq el-Mahdi, who has said the perpetrators of crimes in Darfur "must be sent to trial."
The Darfur conflict began when rebels took up arms against what they saw as years of state neglect and discrimination against Sudanese of African origin. The government is accused of responding with a counterinsurgency campaign in which the Janjaweed, an Arab militia, committed wide-scale abuses against the African population.
Meanwhile, James Wani, who heads the 108-member Sudan People's Liberation Movement delegation, said his group was in Khartoum to implement the peace agreement that formally ended the separate 23-year north-south civil war and work with Sudanese officials to draft a provisional constitution.
"We are here to boost our partnership with the (ruling) National Congress and to revitalize our contacts with all political forces in the country," SPLM secretary general Wani told journalists.
The SPLM's armed wing, the Sudan People's Liberation Army, fought soldiers of the Islamic-oriented government based in northern Sudan for greater rights and a share of wealth for southern Sudanese of Christian and animist faiths since 1983. More than 2 million people were killed during the war, mainly through war-induced famine and disease.