Jan 30, 2009

World - Sudan's president calls ICC 'a mosquito in the ear of elephant'

Cairo, Jan 30 (DPA) Sudanese President Omar al-Bashir likened the International Criminal Court (ICC) to 'a mosquito in the ear of an elephant' in an interview published Thursday in London's pan-Arab daily al-Sharq al-Awsat.

'We have dismissed the claims of the court,' President Bashir told the daily. 'These charges and this court can best be described as a mosquito in the ear of an elephant.'

Luis Moreno-Ocampo, chief prosecutor for the international court, has accused President Bashir of genocide, crimes against humanity, and war crimes committed in Darfur.

Three weeks ago, Ibrahim Gandour, a leading figure in Sudan's ruling party, told al-Sharq al-Awsat that he believed the court's judges would issue an arrest warrant soon.

'This is not a judicial case, but a political one,' Bashir told al-Sharq al-Awsat. 'Sudan refuses this court warrant? The International Criminal Court has no authority over Sudan. This court, by nature, is a supplement to our judicial system and does not substitute it.'

The Sudanese president also lashed out at the court for not taking action on allegations of war crimes committed by Israeli soldiers in Gaza.

'What about the international cases such as Gaza?' Bashir asked. 'The whole world witnessed what happened in Gaza, then the criminal court said it has no role because Israel is not one of its members.'

Bashir also denied that there were any attempts to overthrow him or drive him from his position as head of the ruling National Congress Party.

'Talk of a coup or divisions inside the National Congress Party is just wishful thinking and rumours spread by the opposition. The reaction of the Sudanese people and their support are clear. This is 100 percent certain,' Bashir told the daily.

International monitors say fighting in Darfur has killed some 200,000 people and has forced 2.5 million people from their homes since rebels launched their campaign against the government in 2003.

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