The International Criminal Court has ordered the arrest of Sudan’s president on charges of war crimes and crimes against humanity in Darfur.
Omar al-Bashir, who is the first sitting head of state to be pursued by the Hague-based court, denies the charges against him. Earlier, at a rally in Khartoum, the Sudanese leader told the court’s judges they could “eat” the warrant. His government also dismissed the decision as neo-colonialism. The charges stopped short of accusing Bashir of genocide. The International Criminal Court Prosecutor, Luis Moreno Ocampo, said: ‘‘If the government of Sudan does not execute the warrant of arrest, the UN Security Council will need to ensure compliance. Sudan cannot be against the Security Council, cannot be against the International Criminal Court, but in the meantime, in any case, as soon as Omar al-Bashir travels in international air space his plane could be intercepted and then he could be arrested.’‘ China, the African Union and the Arab League have all warned the court’s indictment could worsen the situation in the war-torn country. Senior UN officials say as many as 300,000 people have been killed in Darfur since 2003, with a further 2.7 million uprooted by the conflict. The crisis began when mostly non-Arab rebels took up arms against the government.