‘Bashir will never ap­pear be­fore ICC’

Chronicle (Zimbabwe) - - Worldwide -

KHAR­TOUM — Su­danese for­eign min­is­ter Ibrahim Ghan­dour has de­nied his gov­ern­ment used chem­i­cal weapons against its cit­i­zens, dis­miss­ing al­le­ga­tions as “a joke”.

In Oc­to­ber 2016, Amnesty called for an in­ter­na­tional in­ves­ti­ga­tion into “dozens of sus­pected chem­i­cal weapons at­tacks against civil­ian pop­u­la­tions over the past nine months” in Jebel Marra, cit­ing “cred­i­ble ev­i­dence of hor­rific in­juries and es­ti­mates of up to 250 deaths”.

Speak­ing to Talk To Al Jazeera’s James Bays this week­end, Ghan­dour said, “We don’t use chem­i­cal weapons against our cit­i­zens. If that has ever hap­pened, it is very easy to tell… Those or­gan­i­sa­tions are look­ing for fi­nance.”

Ghan­dour sim­i­larly dis­missed claims that Su­dan has clus­ter mu­ni­tions; that politi­cians in­volved in the Na­tional Di­a­logue had been ha­rassed or ar­rested; that jour­nal­ists are be­ing jailed; or that there are 2.6m dis­placed peo­ple in Su­dan.

The In­ter­na­tional Crim­i­nal Court (ICC) is­sued an ar­rest war­rant for Su­danese pres­i­dent Omar Al Bashir in 2009 for al­leged war crimes. He was also the first per­son to be charged by the ICC for geno­cide.

But Bashir is now trav­el­ing widely across Africa and to In­dia, seem­ingly un­con­cerned by the threat of ar­rest. Ghan­dour said Bashir will never ap­pear be­fore the ICC, be­cause Su­dan did not rat­ify the Rome Treaty RA­BAT — Thou­sands of Moroc­cans on Sun­day at­tended the fu­neral of a fish­mon­ger whose grue­some death in a rub­bish truck crusher has caused out­rage across the North African coun­try, sources said.

Mouhcine Fikri (31) was crushed to death on Fri­day in the truck in the north­ern city of Al-Ho­ceima as he re­port­edly tried to protest against a mu­nic­i­pal worker seiz­ing and de­stroy­ing his wares.

An im­age of his in­ert body — head and arm stick­ing out from un­der the lorry’s crush­ing mech­a­nism — went vi­ral on so­cial me­dia, spark­ing calls for protests na­tion­wide in­clud­ing in the cap­i­tal Ra­bat. Footage on­line showed thou­sands of peo­ple fol­low­ing the yel­low am­bu­lance that car­ried Fikri’s body through his home town in the eth­ni­cally Ber­ber Rif re­gion on Sun­day.

The pro­ces­sion was led by a dozen driv­ers in their cars, in­clud­ing taxis, and marchers waving Ber­ber flags.

Long ne­glected un­der the fa­ther of the cur­rent king, the Rif was at the heart of Morocco’s protest move­ment for change in 2011. “Crim­i­nals, as­sas­sins, ter­ror­ists!” some marchers shouted. “Rest, martyr Mouhcine. We will carry on the strug­gle!”

An­other pro­tester de­manded a proper in­ves­ti­ga­tion into the in­ci­dent to “find those who did it”. The ex­act cir­cum­stances of Fikri’s death re­main un­clear. But a hu­man rights ac­tivist said that the au­thor­i­ties forced the fish­mon­ger to de­stroy sev­eral boxes of sword­fish, whose fish­ing is banned. “The goods were worth a lot of money,” said Fas­sal Aous­sar from the lo­cal branch of the Moroc­can As­so­ci­a­tion of Hu­man Rights. The sales­man threw him­self in af­ter his fish and was crushed by the ma­chine,” he said. “The whole of the Rif is in shock and boil­ing over.” The in­te­rior min­istry and pros­e­cu­tors in Al-Ho­ceima have or­dered an in­ves­ti­ga­tion into the in­ci­dent.

King Mo­hammed VI has or­dered a “thor­ough and ex­haus­tive in­ves­ti­ga­tion” into the in­ci­dent and the “pros­e­cu­tion of who­ever is found re­spon­si­ble”, an in­te­rior min­istry state­ment said.— AFP and be­cause of the hypocrisy of the UN Se­cu­rity Coun­cil be­ing able to re­fer non-sig­na­tory coun­tries to the ICC, while re­tain­ing veto power for the US, Rus­sia and China to pro­tect them­selves.

“Not a sin­gle Su­danese will go to the ICC Court,” Ghan­dour said. “That was a po­lit­i­cal ac­cu­sa­tion. We know the ICC is a po­lit­i­cal or­gan of the EU. This is a court that has been formed and built to in­dict Africans. This is why you find all those lead­ers who have been ac­cused and in­dicted are African lead­ers, while we see crimes ev­ery­where and no one is in­dicted.”

Ghan­dour claimed, “There is peace right now in Dar­fur” and called for the im­ple­men­ta­tion of an exit strat­egy for the UN peace­keep­ing force there, Unamid.

“The UN spends on Unamid an­nu­ally $1.3 bil­lion. If that was given to the gov­ern­ment of Su­dan, it could have changed the whole of Dar­fur into not only a peace­ful set­tle­ment but abol­ished the rea­son of the fight, which is drought. There are other ar­eas in the world that need peace­keep­ers,” he said.

When asked about the im­mi­nent end to the cease­fire in South Kord­o­fan and the Blue Nile, he said, “We are much closer than ever and we hope that this will end the con­flict in the two ar­eas… We be­lieve there is no so­lu­tion but a po­lit­i­cal so­lu­tion.”

He said the fact that 75 per­cent of South Su­dan’s more than a mil­lion refugees are in Su­dan is a sign of how sta­ble his coun­try is.

“The ar­eas we are talk­ing about are on our bor­der with South Su­dan and no one will move from an area where there is a fight to an area that is in­se­cure.”

He ex­pressed his con­cern over the re­cent un­rest in South Su­dan. “We are very much wor­ried be­cause we be­lieve that there is no peace in Su­dan with­out peace in South Su­dan and vice versa,” he added. “What­ever hap­pens in South Su­dan will af­fect us di­rectly.”

He crit­i­cised those who had pushed for South Su­dan’s in­de­pen­dence, say­ing Su­dan had warned them “the sep­a­ra­tion of South Su­dan may be a pre­ma­ture de­ci­sion.” But while he said, “This is now go­ing on the wrong path,” he also ex­pressed con­fi­dence that “we are quite sure that our brothers in the South can do bet­ter with the help of every­one in the re­gion.”

Su­dan is shel­ter­ing South Su­dan’s for­mer vice pres­i­dent Riek Machar, but Ghan­dour de­nied they were sup­port­ing him. “Machar is in Khar­toum for treat­ment and he is leav­ing Khar­toum very soon. Khar­toum will not be used as a spring­board for any mil­i­tary ac­tion against the gov­ern­ment of South Su­dan.”

He ended the interview ex­press­ing his op­ti­mism about Su­dan’s fu­ture. “If a coun­try was ca­pa­ble to stop the long­est war in Africa, we are ca­pa­ble of reach­ing a fi­nal peace. We are much nearer than many ex­pect. We are on the shores of a peace­ful set­tle­ment for ev­ery­thing in Su­dan. I can see a bet­ter fu­ture for the com­ing gen­er­a­tion.” — AFP

Thou­sands mourn fish­mon­ger crushed in rub­bish truck

Thou­sands of Moroc­cans at­tend the fu­neral of a fish­mon­ger whose grue­some death in a rub­bish truck crusher has caused out­rage across the North African coun­try. — AFP

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