UN to attend inauguration of Sudan leader sought by ICC

2010-05-22 11:42

UN officials will attend the inauguration of Sudan’s President Omar

al-Beshir next week even though he is wanted by the International Criminal Court

(ICC) for alleged war crimes.

“Attending will be the Secretary-General’s (Ban Ki-Moon) Special

Representatives in Sudan, Haïle Menkerios and Ibrahim Gambari (head of the joint

UN-African Union mission in Darfur),” said UN deputy spokesperson Marie

Okabe.

As the senior UN officials on the ground, she added, Menkerios and

Gambari “interact with the host government regularly on operational issues to

ensure that their missions are able to function effectively and to address areas

of mutual concern”.

The US-based Human Rights Watch on Thursday called on all

governments party to the ICC to boycott Beshir’s inauguration.

“Al-Beshir is a fugitive from justice who should be arrested, not

feted,” HRW senior counsel Elise Keppler said in a statement, adding that

attending the inauguration “would send a terrible message to victims in Darfur,

and globally”.

In March 2009, the ICC issued an arrest warrant for Beshir over the

Darfur conflict.

Beshir rejects the jurisdiction of the ICC, the world’s only

independent, permanent court with authority to try genocide, crimes against

humanity and war crimes.

Beshir, the incumbent, claimed victory with 68% of the vote in a

presidential election last month, after two top rivals accused him of

orchestrating the results and withdrew from the contest.

The United Nations says more than 300 000 people have been killed

since the Darfur conflict broke out in 2003, when minority rebels took up arms

against the Arab-dominated government for a greater share of resources and

power.

The Sudanese government in Khartoum puts the death toll at 10 000.

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