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Page last updated at 21:06 GMT, Friday, 11 July 2008 22:06 UK

Sudan angry at threat of charges

Sudanese President Omar al-Bashir
President Bashir says there is a "vicious campaign" against his country

Sudan's ambassador to the UN has reacted angrily to reports that his country's president could be charged with war crimes over Darfur.

Abdalmahmood Abdalhaleem Mohamad said any such charges against President Omar al-Bashir would be a "criminal move".

Prosecutors at the International Criminal Court are expected to present evidence against Mr Bashir on Monday.

Foreign ambassadors in Khartoum have been warned that an indictment could badly affect the region's stability.

"If these reports are true this would constitute a very serious development, a criminal move that we strongly condemn," said Mr Mohamad.

He said a International Criminal Court indictment would have "very negative implications" on peace and security in Darfur and the entire country.

Luis Moreno-Ocampo is a criminal, he's endangering the entire security situation in the country and in Darfur and he should be held accountable for what he's doing
Abdalmahmood Abdalhaleem Mohamad
Sudan's ambassador to UN

An aide to ICC prosecutor Luis Moreno-Ocampo told the BBC he was to submit detailed evidence of war crimes to judges on Monday, which could lead to an arrest warrant being issued.

Mr Ocampo has not confirmed whether Mr Bashir will be charged.

Charges against him could include war crimes, crimes against humanity and genocide.

President Bashir has said his country faces a "vicious campaign". He denies charges that his government has been behind the violence in Darfur.

UN ambassador Mr Mohamad told the BBC that Mr Ocampo was a "criminal".

"He's endangering the entire security situation in the country and in Darfur and he should be held accountable for what he's doing."

Peacekeepers struggling

Foreign ambassadors in Khartoum were summoned to the foreign ministry and told that the ICC move would have a negative impact on efforts to secure peace and stability in Darfur and across the entire region.

The possibility of charges has led UN officials to fear that the lives of peacekeepers in Darfur could be endangered.

Over the last five years, more than two million people have fled their villages in Darfur, destroyed by pro-government Janjaweed militia.

Gambian soldier with the joint United Nations-African Union Mission in Darfur - 29/5/2008
A joint AU-UN force has not been able to contain the violence in Darfur

The Arab Janjaweed have been accused of ethnic cleansing and genocide against black African civilians, after rebels took up arms in protest at alleged government discrimination in 2003.

The UN estimates that some 300,000 people have died because of the conflict but Sudan's government says the scale of the violence has been exaggerated.

The United Nations and African Union have a joint peacekeeping force in Darfur. But it has just 9,000 of the planned 26,000 troops and has been struggling to contain the violence.

It is estimated that two-thirds of Darfur's surviving population rely on humanitarian assistance.

The BBC's Laura Trevelyan at UN headquarters in New York says there is considerable alarm about the political consequences of such a move.

Officials fear that peacekeeping and aid operations will be frustrated.

On Tuesday, seven Darfur peacekeepers died and 22 others were injured, seven critically, in an ambush - one of the deadliest assaults on UN forces in recent years.

The Sudanese government blamed rebel groups for the attack.

The ICC accuses the entire Sudanese government of war crimes in Darfur, although the government denies organising the Janjaweed.

The ICC has already issued arrest warrants for a minister and a militia leader on 51 counts of war crimes and crimes against humanity.

Sudan does not recognise the ICC and has refused to hand the two over.


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