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At UN, Indictment of Bashir Denounced by S. Africa, France Says "It's Not Too Late"

Byline: Matthew Russell Lee of Inner City Press at the UN: News Analysis

UNITED NATIONS, July 16 -- The indictment of Sudan's president for genocide dominated discussion outside the Security Council Wednesday morning, when the peacekeeping mission in Darfur, UNAMID, was on the agenda. South Africa's Ambassador Dumisani Kumalo said "we're concerned by the indictment," especially while "rebels run free without measures against them."

   Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon's own report on UNAMID notes "child soldiers among the Justice and Equality Movement combatants in Omdurman" and claimed that "my office is pressing for the release of the children detained by the Government." The children have been held for more than two months, and it is UNICEF, if anyone, which is trying to get them released. In response to Inner City Press' last request, UNICEF provided an update about volleyballs for the child soldiers.

   Ambassador Kumalo was asked, "What about Article sixteen" of the International Criminal Court's Rome Statute, which provides that the Council can by vote request a one year suspension of ICC proceedings.  "I'm not that educated," Kumalo joked. He pointed to Sudan's Ambassador, who had emerged from the Security Council, and suggested that he be asked the question.

Ambassadors of Sudan, S. Africa and UK in Khartoum airport, pre-indictment

  "Article sixteen itself is not enough," he said. He spoke cryptically about stopping the ICC proceeding, which he said has made Omar Al-Bashir more popular in Sudan, "by the Rome Stature or out of the books." How else could it be stopped? He said he had just finished discussions with China's Ambassador Wang, who on July 11 told Inner City Press that the move by ICC prosecutor Luis Moreno-Ocampo to indict Al-Bashir is not helpful.

 But any resolution to suspend ICC proceeding would require the vote, or at least abstention, of the U.S., France and UK.  While on July 15 U.S. Ambassador Zalmay Khalilzad declined to comment on the issue, French Ambassador Jean-Maurice Ripert said of Al-Bashir, "it is not too late" to cooperate with the ICC, by turning over previous indictees Ali Kushayb and Ahmad Harun.  Ocampo's charges against Bashir are not limited to non-cooperation.  Is the implicit offer to suspend substantive charges of war crimes in exchange for turning in two underlings? This would turn prosecutorial strategy on its head. The assumption was that Ocampo indicted Harun to see if he would flip on Bashir. Is Bashir now being offered a suspension of proceedings against him if he'll only turn in Harun? Watch this site. And this --


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These reports are usually also available through Google News and on Lexis-Nexis.

Click here for a Reuters AlertNet piece by this correspondent about Uganda's Lord's Resistance Army. Click here for an earlier Reuters AlertNet piece about the Somali National Reconciliation Congress, and the UN's $200,000 contribution from an undefined trust fund.  Video Analysis here

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