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Sudan's president warns foreigners in Darfur

Bashir threatens to expel more aid agencies, diplomats



Sudan's President Omar Hassan al-Bashir threatened on Sunday to expel diplomats and more aid groups, brandishing a sword at a Darfur rally days after a Hague court issued a warrant for him for war crimes.

The trip is seen as a calculated show of defiance by Bashir in the face of mounting Western criticism of his government's expulsion of 13 aid agencies following the ICC's announcement of the warrant on Wednesday for war crimes and crimes against humanity in the western region.

Sudan said that the expelled aid groups helped the ICC. The relief organizations deny any complicity.

"We expelled the organizations because they threatened the security of Sudan," Bashir told a rally in Al-Fasher, capital of north Darfur.

"We will expel anyone who goes against Sudanese law, whether they are voluntary organizations, diplomatic missions or security forces."

Bashir waved the sword as he rallied the crowd, after a speech in which he insulted the court, poured scorn on the West and defended the decision to close down the humanitarian organizations.

"Under my feet"

Bashir shouted out a list of atrocities he said had been carried out by the West, from the mass killing of Native Americans during the foundation of the United States, to the bombings of Hiroshima, Vietnam and Iraq.

"They killed millions of Indians ... Why are they not on trial," he said.

"The International Criminal Court and everyone who works for it are under my feet," he added, a serious insult across the Arab world.

Thousands of people, many riding horses and camels, waved banners and flags to greet Bashir, who rode into the town, waving from the back of an open pick-up truck.

Some members of the crowd taunted ICC Chief Prosecutor Luis Moreno-Ocampo. One man was seen leading a donkey with an Ocampo mask over its head, while others carried a model of a dog with Ocampo's name written on the side.

Before the expulsions, the United Nations and aid groups were running the world's largest humanitarian operation in Darfur where, international experts say, almost six years of conflict have killed 200,000 people and displaced more than 2.7 million people from their homes.

The International Criminal Court and everyone who works for it are under my feet

Sudanese President Omar al-Bashir

Irreversible expulsion

Earlier, foreign ministry Under Secretary Mutrif Siddiq warned that the expulsion decision was irreversible.

"The decision of the authorities expelling foreign Organizations... is an irreversible decision," he said in a statement carried by the official SUNA news agency.

"Evidence has proved their cooperation with the so-called International Criminal Court," Siddiq said.

United Nations' agencies in Sudan have warned that the expulsion of key aid groups will have "devastating implications" and that in their absence "much of the aid operation literally comes to a halt."

The expelled organizations account for "more than half" the capacity of the aid operation in Darfur, the United Nations reported.

Remaining organizations will be allowed to operate in Sudan "as long as they are committed to the laws regulating humanitarian work," Siddiq said.

The decision of the authorities expelling foreign Organizations... is an irreversible decision

Foreign Ministry Under Secretary Mutrif Siddiq

Sudan’s alternative plan

The government is also preparing an "alternative plan" to fill the gap created by the expelled agencies, instead collaborating with "national and friendly foreign NGOs," according to the Sudan Media Centre, a website close to the security services.

However, oil-rich Sudan has seen its income slashed with the slump in the price of crude, and experts say it would be difficult to replace the support and experience of the relief agencies, even if the political will exists.

"If the life-saving assistance these agencies were providing is not restored shortly, it will have immediate, lasting and profound impacts on the well-being of millions of Sudanese citizens," the United Nations warned.

"It is not possible, in any reasonable time frame, to replace the capacity and expertise these agencies have provided over an extended period of time."

If the life-saving assistance these agencies were providing is not restored shortly, it will have immediate, lasting and profound impacts on the well-being of millions of Sudanese citizens

United Nations