Sudan seeks Arab
League talks about Criminal Court
* Sudan calls for emergency
Arab League meeting on ICC
* Sudan mulls Russian, Chinese help to block any arrest
* Rebels welcome any arrest warrant for Sudanese president
By Cynthia Johnston
CAIRO, July 12 (Reuters) - Sudan formally asked the Arab League on Saturday to
hold an emergency meeting of foreign ministers after reports the International
Criminal Court's (ICC) prosecutor may seek the arrest of Sudan's president. A
senior European diplomat said on Friday the ICC's prosecutor would likely seek
President Omar Hassan al-Bashir's arrest in a new Darfur war crimes case he will
open on Monday.
Sudan has said any such move could undermine the Darfur peace process. Two
senior government officials told Reuters Sudan would likely seek Chinese,
Russian and African support at the United Nations to help block any warrant for
The issue could also pit the demands of the U.N.-backed ICC against U.N.
interests in deploying a peace force in Darfur -- home to the world's largest
humanitarian operation -- and aid officials fear a potential backlash.
Sudan's main rebel groups, who have also been accused of rights abuses, said on
Saturday any ICC arrest warrant for Bashir would be a triumph for justice, and
pledged to hand over their own commanders if sought by the court.
An Arab League spokesman said Sudan had submitted a written request to convene a
meeting of Arab foreign ministers, and that League Secretary General Amr Moussa
was working on the issue.
"Amr Moussa is in Paris and is consulting with Arab foreign ministers for an
extraordinary meeting of the council of foreign ministers," Arab League
spokesman Abdel-Alim al-Abyad said. The officials are in France for a summit of
European Union and Mediterranean leaders.
Egypt's state news agency MENA said Sudan wanted the meeting "to look into the
situation between Sudan and the International Criminal Court". The Cairo-based
Arab League said it was still too early to say when or where such a meeting
would take place.
Sudanese officials said they were also seeking broader international support to
stymie any arrest warrant.
"Contacts are already established with China and Russia ... and they have shown
their support ... But it's informal so far," said one senior government source
on condition on anonymity.
ICC Prosecutor Luis Moreno-Ocampo is due to submit to judges "evidence on crimes
committed in the whole of Darfur over the last five years" and seek to charge an
individual or individuals, a prosecution statement said on Thursday.
It gave no details. The Washington Post quoted U.N. officials and diplomats as
saying the prosecutor would charge Bashir with genocide and crimes against
humanity on Monday.
Moreno-Ocampo said last month that Sudan's "entire state apparatus" was involved
in an organised campaign to attack civilians in Darfur and said he would present
judges with evidence implicating senior Sudanese officials in July.
"This is a new world age -- it will send a message that anyone who commits
crimes and genocide will be judged," said Abdel Wahed Mohamed el-Nur, founder of
the Darfur rebel Sudan Liberation Movement (SLM).
Nur and two other rebel leaders told Reuters that if Moreno-Ocampo indicted any
of their own commanders, they would comply and send them to the ICC in The Hague
Moreno-Ocampo has said he was investigating a 2007 attack on an African Union
base in Haskanita in Darfur which killed 12 peacekeepers and was blamed on
ICC judges issued arrest warrants for two Sudanese suspects last year --
government minister Ahmed Haroun and militia commander Ali Kushayb. Khartoum has
refused to hand them over.
International experts say at least 200,000 people have died in Darfur and 2.5
million have been displaced since a rebellion erupted in 2003. Khartoum says
10,000 people have been killed. (Writing by Cynthia Johnston; Additional
reporting by Opheera McDoom in Khartoum; Editing by Caroline Drees