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ICC told to annul Bashir warrant

DOHA, Mar 29 – Arab foreign ministers urged the International Criminal Court (ICC) on Saturday to annul its arrest warrant against Sudan’s President Omar al-Bashir, in a draft statement ahead of a Doha summit.

The draft, to be submitted to Arab leaders at the summit on Monday, calls for "cancelling the measures" adopted by the ICC against Bashir over alleged war crimes in conflict-ravaged Darfur.

It also "urges all Arab countries not to cooperate with the measures of the ICC" against Bashir, in a copy of the draft obtained by AFP.

"The ICC decision against President Omar el-Bashir sets a dangerous precedent in targeting a president who is still in office," the draft read.

The foreign ministers, however, did not agree on a proposal to hold an emergency Arab summit in Khartoum in solidarity with Bashir immediately after the Doha gathering, leaving the proposal for the heads of state to weigh.

Speculation was rife in Doha over whether Bashir would attend the Doha summit at the invitation of Qatar, which is not bound by ICC rules.

The United Nations says 300,000 people have died — many from disease and hunger — and 2.7 million have been made homeless by the Darfur conflict, which erupted in 2003. Khartoum puts the death toll at 10,000.

On his second foreign visit in defiance of the international arrest warrant, Bashir met Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak in Cairo last Wednesday, following a visit to Eritrea.

He has also visited Libya where he met the country’s leader Muammar Gaddafi.

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The office of ICC prosecutor Luis Moreno-Ocampo, whose advice triggered the warrant, has insisted the Sudanese leader could not continue business as usual and avoid being held to account.

But Qatar and Egypt – like all Arab states except for Jordan – are not a party to the Rome treaty which created the ICC, the world’s first permanent war crimes tribunal.

The ICC calls on signatory states to implement warrants, while all United Nations member states are also urged to cooperate with The Hague-based court.


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