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Sudan may withdraw visas of western nationals

NAIROBI, July 22- The Sudan Government on Tuesday said that the Darfur peace process and international organisations operating in Darfur are likely to be among the most affected if by International Criminal Courts proceeds with its plans to indict President Omar-el- Bashir.

“We will not accept to have a peacekeeping force to be on stand by in Darfur so that it can arrest (President) el- Bashir when he visits the area,” Sudanese Presidential advisor, Bona Malwal told reporters in Nairobi.

The Sudanese official who was on a two day official visit to Kenya said the Sudanese government would be have to deny or withdraw visas to foreign nationals visiting the area as it would not be able to guarantee their security while in the region.

Malwal said: “We cannot let such a responsibility hang on us when we cannot be in charge as a sovereign, independent state of Darfur because it is a responsibility that no one should undertake lightly so the people leaving in Darfur should be surprised when they are told to withdraw.”

Some of the United Nation agencies stationed in Darfur have begun pulling out unessential staff from the region.

He said the indictment is a “political agenda” by some western countries which are interested in its oil resources.

“This is much bigger case than what is going on in the Darfur,” said the Sudanese official.

He questioned the intention of the move arguing that Sudan was being victimised by some western countries as a result of its relationship with China.

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Malwal said: “Is the indictment of a sitting president going to bring a peaceful solution to Darfur or is this intended to cow whoever will replace the sitting president into the person who will take over from the sitting president to give some of the sovereignty.”

The Sudanese official said his government is committed to a peaceful resolution to the Darfur conflict but argued that the international community is equally to blame for the insecurity in the area after it failed to live up to its promise of providing logistical assistance to the African Union peacekeeping force deployed in Darfur.

“The Sudan government has been locked out of Darfur. We cannot conduct security operations in the area because there are peacekeepers there who were supported by the very same European powers who are accusing us, but still it’s the Sudan government which has failed,” he said.

Malwal said the AU troops needed at least 15 helicopters to patrol the area, which he said is the size of France.

“Sudan doesn’t make helicopters, the people who provide them don’t want to make them available and soon they will say that the government is blocking the importation of the choppers basically they are looking for any reason to blame us,” said Malwal.

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