A Sudanese Catholic bishop has said that the International Criminal Court’s decision to indict Sudanese President Omar Al-Bashir for genocide and for crimes against humanity has divided the country. While those in conflict-torn Darfur are happy with the move, demonstrations in support of the president have broken out in Khartoum and in other parts of the country.
“Demonstrations supporting the president have already started in El Obeid. This morning all the schools participated in a great demonstration in the centre of the town. Surely, in the coming days other groups will do the same,” Bishop Antonio Menegazzo of El Obeid told Catholic Information Service for Africa (CISA).
The location of the International Criminal Court (ICC) in The Hague, Netherlands, has aggravated the reaction, he said.
“Do not forget that politics in the Moslem world are always tied up with religion, even if religion has nothing to do with this case. The indictment is coming from Europe; the ICC resides in a Christian country,” the bishop explained.
“Even those opposed to Omar al-Bashir will support him against the interference by the ICC. Even the peace process for Darfur will suffer,” Bishop Menegazzo stated.
On Monday ICC chief prosecutor Luis Moreno-Ocampo formally charged President al-Bashir, alleging that the president “bears criminal responsibility” related to 10 counts of genocide, crimes against humanity and war crimes in Darfur.
Moreno-Ocampo alleged that the president masterminded and implemented a plan to destroy the Fur, Masalit and Zaghawa peoples on account of their ethnicity. The chief prosecutor then requested an arrest warrant for al-Bashir from the ICC judges of the Pre-Trial Chamber I.
Some international observers said the move could further destabilize Sudan, while some human rights groups welcomed the indictment.
The indictment was also welcomed by Father Jude Waweru, an official with the eight-nation Association of Member Episcopal Conferences of Eastern Africa (AMECEA).
“If it is true that President al-Bashir has contributed in the war crimes in the Sudan, I think justice has to be pursued,” said Father Waweru, who is the AMECEA Justice and Peace Coordinator in Nairobi.
“He has been there all these years and how has he contributed to peace in the country? He has not delivered. If he is guilty, his arrest will benefit the African continent, where leaders mismanage resources and oppress the people.”