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24 Feb 2009 10:32
The leader of Darfur’s strongest rebel group said in comments published on Tuesday that his forces would refocus efforts to topple Sudanese President Omar al-Bashir if the International Criminal Court (ICC) issues a warrant for his arrest.
Speaking to the Times from Chad’s capital N’Djamena, Justice and Equality Movement (JEM) leader Khalil Ibrahim said that “when this warrant comes it is, for us, the end of Bashir’s legitimacy to be president of Sudan”.
“We will work hard to bring him down ... If he doesn’t cooperate with the ICC, the war will intensify.”
The ICC said on Monday it would rule next week on whether to issue the arrest warrant, which has been requested by the court’s chief prosecutor Luis Moreno-Ocampo.
Moreno-Ocampo accuses al-Bashir of genocide, crimes against humanity and war crimes in the strife-torn region of Darfur.
Ibrahim spoke less than a week after the JEM indicated a readiness to establish a foundation for peace with Sudan’s government following talks in the Qatari capital of Doha, the first contacts since 2007 between the government and representatives of the JEM.
He cautioned against having high hopes for the pact, however, warning that the Sudanese government “is unpredictable ...
They never honour any agreement they sign”.
The most heavily armed of the Darfur rebel groups, the JEM declined to sign the 2006 peace deal inked only by the Sudan Liberation Army faction of Minni Minawi and in May last year launched an unprecedented assault on the Sudanese capital.
According to the United Nations, 300 000 people have died and more than 2,2-million fled their homes since ethnic minority rebels in Darfur rose up against the Arab-dominated Khartoum government in February 2003.
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