x Abu Dhabi, UAE Friday 21 July 2017

Sudan's President Bashir may face genocide charges again

An appeals chamber of the International Criminal Court orders a review over genocide charges that were dropped against the Sudanese president Omar al Bashir.

Khartoum has accused the International Criminal Court of trying to influence peace talks with Darfur rebels and reform in Sudan after an appeals chamber ordered a review of the dropping of genocide charges against President Omar al Bashir. "The ICC wants to impact the political process in Sudan and the ongoing negotiations in Doha," Kamal Obeid, the state minister for information said, referring to consultations with Darfur rebels in Qatar. "If you look to the time of this process, it shows that the ICC wants to stop the political development in Sudan, but I believe it will help Sudanese to be more committed to the democratic transformation." Sudan's foreign ministry rejected "this political act and its destructive goals," which aims to "jeopardise the current peace process in Doha ... and the elections".

The ICC's appeals chamber ordered the pretrial chamber to reconsider its decision to drop three charges of genocide when it issued an arrest warrant for Mr Bashir last March on five counts of crimes against humanity and two of war crimes committed in Darfur. The judges said the standard of proof on which the pretrial chamber rejected the genocide charges was too demanding. They directed it to issue "a new decision using the correct standard of proof". The decision came as Mr Bashir briefly visited Doha to meet the Qatari emir Hamad bin Khalifa al Thani for talks that dealt with the Darfur peace process.

The rebel Justice and Equality Movement has held two rounds of talks with Sudanese officials. A JEM official welcomed the appeal court's decision as a victory for "the population of Darfur and justice" but added that his group was still committed to the peace talks. Other rebel groups have boycotted them. A Sudanese official said on Sunday that Khartoum wanted the talks to conclude before a general election expected in April, Sudan's first since 1986. * AFP