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Page last updated at 08:14 GMT, Tuesday, 23 September 2008 09:14 UK

Sudan lobbies against Bashir case

Sudan's president, Omar Al-Bashir
The Sudanese president is accused of war crimes in Darfur

Sudan has started lobbying the UN to block an investigation into alleged war crimes in Darfur by Sudanese President Omar al-Bashir.

Other African countries are expected to call for the case to be suspended.

International Criminal Court chief prosecutor Luis Moreno Ocampo says that troops under the president's command continue to rape women in Darfur.

Opponents of the investigation argue that it is hindering efforts to establish peace in Darfur.

'African laboratory'

The lobbying is under way at the UN general assembly in New York.

The African Union and the Arab League have already said the investigation should be dropped.

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African Union Chairman Jean Ping told the BBC it was unfair that all those indicted by the ICC so far were African.

"We are not against international justice," he said.

"It seems that Africa has become a laboratory to test the new international law."

But Western countries such as the US and the UK say Mr Bashir's government has backed militias, which they accuse of committing widespread atrocities in Darfur.

Mr Ocampo has asked for an arrest warrant to be issued for the Sudanese president.

He says Mr Bashir should be charged with carrying out genocide in Darfur, and that forces under his authority continue to bomb schools in the region.

Up to 300,000 people have been killed and more than two million have been forced from their homes in Darfur since 2003.

The International Criminal Court is expected to rule on how to proceed before the end of this year.

It can refuse to prosecute the case if it believes that doing so would be a threat to peace and security.

The African Union has already asked the UN Security Council to put a block on the case.


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