Khartoum, Sudan: Sudan`s President was sworn in on Thursday for another five-year term after an election marred by boycotts and fraud allegations — the only head of state to be re-elected while facing an international arrest warrant for war crimes.
Omar al-Bashir is sought by the International Criminal Court in The Hague, Netherlands, for allegedly masterminding atrocities in Darfur. Sudan doesn`t recognize the tribunal and has refused to cooperate or hand over its citizens.
The swearing-in ceremony in Khartoum came a day after the ICC reported Sudan to the U.N. Security Council for refusing to arrest two other Sudanese officials — a government minister and a militia leader. The two are also suspected of war crimes in Darfur, where fighting between government and rebel forces killed 300,000 people and displaced 2.7 million from their homes.
Al-Bashir, who came to power 21 years ago in a military coup, got a comfortable majority in the April elections, winning 68 percent of more than 10 million valid ballots. His victory was widely expected after his most credible challengers pulled out of the race to protest alleged fraud.
But the win was unlikely to put to rest questions about his international standing or ease Sudan`s isolation. Al-Bashir cannot travel freely because he risks being arrested in countries that recognize the ICC.
Last month`s balloting was Sudan`s first multiparty presidential, parliamentary and local elections in 24 years. It was also a key requirement of a 2005 peace deal that ended a 21-year civil war between the predominantly Arab and Muslim north and rebels in the Christian-animist south.
The fighting left 2 million people dead and many more displaced. The Darfur conflict, which began in 2003, is not related to that war.
April elections also opened the way for a 2011 referendum in which the south will decide whether it wants to secede — a decision that will come under al-Bashir`s new term.
Arab satellite channels broadcast segments from the ceremony Thursday, with presidents of Chad, Eritrea, Djibouti, the Central African Republic attending, along with the Egyptian defense minister. Human rights groups have urged nations to boycott the event to underscore their commitment to international justice.
On Wednesday, ICC judges said in a report that Sudan has refused to hand over Humanitarian Affairs Minister Ahmed Harun and Janjaweed militia leader Ali Kushayb. The court ordered the two arrested in 2007 on a total of 51 charges of crimes against humanity and war crimes. The report said it was now up to the Security Council to take appropriate action.
Beshir vows dialogue with West
Veteran Sudanese President Omar al-Beshir vowed on Thursday to engage with the West despite an ICC warrant hanging over him.
Khartoum: Veteran Sudanese President Omar
al-Beshir vowed on Thursday to engage with the West despite an
International Criminal Court warrant hanging over him, as he
was sworn in to a new five-year term.
Beshir, who last month won a multi-party election 21
years after seizing power in a military coup, also pledged to
fight for Sudanese unity as Africa`s biggest country heads to
a referendum in January next year on independence for
Dressed in traditional white robes and turban, Beshir
addressed Parliament in a ceremony attended by six African
heads of state or government, and low-level representation
from Western countries.
"I will personally strive to build up a dialogue, an
objective dialogue with Western states aimed at clearing the
atmosphere," he said.
In March 2009, Beshir became the first sitting head of
state to be indicted by the ICC. He stands accused of war
crimes and crimes against humanity in Darfur.
The seven-year-old conflict in the vast western region
pitting the army and Arab militias against ethnic minority
rebels sparked US charges of genocide and Western anger that
he refused to cooperate with the International Criminal
Court or surrender wanted officials.