Cairo, Asharq Al-Awsat- Muhammad Othman al-Mirghani, leader of the Democratic Unionist Party, has reiterated the categorical refusal to send any Sudanese to courts outside Sudan and warned of the repercussions of the accusations by the International Criminal Court’s [ICC] prosecutor in The Hague against President Omar al-Bashir because failure to contain them will lead to grave consequences at the Sudanese and regional levels. He revealed the existence of an initiative to establish special courts by the Sudanese judiciary to try those accused of criminal violations in Darfur and urged the Arab League to make the Arab countries fulfill their pledges to provide finance and vital services for the citizens of Darfur. He also called for strong Arab-African cooperation with the Non-aligned countries to confront the malicious targeting of Sudan as a homeland and a state. He stressed in an interview with Asharq Al-Awsat in Cairo that the way out of the escalating crises is to speed up the achievement of the comprehensive national accord in Sudan and holding a national conference in which all the parties take part so as to agree on the basic national constants, prevent the situations from deteriorating, and repel the dangers and threats to Sudan. He called the National Council’s ratification of the general elections bill a correct action and called for holding the general elections on time and preparing the right atmospheres for them. He said the People’s Movement [SPLM], which turned from a military movement into a political party, has the right to nominate its leader General Silva Kiir for the presidential election within the framework of compliance with the democratic change and the peaceful rotation of power through the ballot box. Following is the text of the interview:
[Asharq Al-Awsat] How do you view the implications of the ICC prosecutor’s accusations against President Omar al-Bashir?
[Al-Mirghani] Our principled stand toward The Hague’s criminal court which we announced before two years remains firm and it rejects bringing Sudanese citizens before courts outside Sudan. We therefore reiterate the rejection of the ICC and its accusations against Sudanese President Omar al-Bashir and warn of the anarchy and troubles it might cause in Sudan and the entire region if it persists with these accusations and pushes them to what is impermissible nationally, legally, and politically. The Security Council and the United Nations should freeze the ICC prosecutor’s accusations because they might put the joint forces in Darfur Province in a very critical and embarrassing position. They also impede the efforts being made at present to reach a fair and comprehensive solution for achieving peace and stability in Darfur Province and putting an end to its people’s suffering whose human pains have been going on for long.
[Asharq Al-Awsat] But how can the repercussions of the prosecutor’s accusations against President Al-Bashir be contained?
[Al-Mirghani] We demanded a constructive and positive cooperation to confront the political, legal, and diplomatic repercussions of the situation in addition to intensifying efforts, providing assistance, and fulfilling the regional and international communities’ pledges so as to improve the humanitarian conditions of the Darfur population whether they are inside the province or in the camps because what is preoccupying us and the human conscience at present is that these events are quickening and the Darfur citizen is paying the price for them. I urged the Arab League in particular to speed up the Arab countries’ pledges to give financial aid for providing the vital services and preparing the atmospheres for the stability and living conditions of the Darfur population. We also called on the African Union to deal with the Darfur crisis wisely and in cooperation and coordination with the Arab League so as to gain the time factor and not let it become a threat to Sudan or to neighboring countries or all of Africa.
[Asharq Al-Awsat] How do you view the solutions proposed now for dealing with the Darfur situations?
[Al-Mirghani] We called early on for an inter-Darfur dialogue by all the people of the province, tribal leaders, political forces, civil society organizations, and the armed movements, in an enlarged conference that does not exclude any one or any party. We sent our messages inside and outside the country for that purpose and we believe that the critical conditions require holding this conference quickly so as to establish peace on the ground and complete the permanent peace solution for the Darfur issue with the immediate implementation of the necessary services projects for the people of Darfur. The political solution and services and development are the two sides of the same coin.
[Asharq Al-Awsat] How do you view the ICC’s accusations against Sudanese officials?
[Al-Mirghani] We rejected early on any move to try Sudanese defendants in connection with the Darfur events outside Sudan. We proposed setting up special courts inside Sudan striving for justice and honesty. We said we have a fair and honest judiciary in our country and that it is capable of carrying out its duty and responsibilities at the required level and that if justice is established in Khartoum then there is no need for it in The Hague or anywhere else.
[Asharq Al-Awsat] What would happen if the ICC’s prosecutor persisted with his accusations against President Al-Bashir?
[Al-Mirghani] There is a broad rejection of these accusations by the Arab and African groups and the Nonaligned and Pacific countries because persisting with them impedes the peace efforts being exerted for the sake of the Darfur people and because they threaten the southern peace agreement and also the east which will subject Sudan to many dangers. Therefore the Sudanese, Arab, and African solutions should be unified so as to focus on the peaceful solution for the Darfur Province, establish peace in it, and refute the prosecutor’s allegations within the law framework while applying the law to those who committed crimes in Darfur through special courts by the Sudanese judiciary.
[Asharq Al-Awsat] Does the comprehensive conference conflict with your call for national accord in Sudan?
[Al-Mirghani] What is basically needed at this stage is the absence of political one-upmanship and machinations. Sudan is first, second, and third and it is the same for the homeland’s supreme interests. The comprehensive national accord initiative in Sudan which was proposed to the political leaders and national forces calls for discussion of the main issues so as to agree on and comply with the national constants and the need for the national agreement on the most basic national principles and constants for repelling the dangers and threats to Sudan.
[Asharq Al-Awsat] What is your stand on the National Council’s ratification of the elections law?
[Al-Mirghani] We are the only Sudanese party committed firmly to democracy and elections through the ballot box and therefore we welcomed immediately the general elections law and called for preparing the right atmospheres to hold them on time next year.
[Asharq Al-Awsat] How do you view the SPLM’s nomination of its leader Silva Kiir for the presidential election in Sudan?
[Al-Mirghani] General Silva Kiir is a Sudanese citizen before being SPLM leader. This movement turned from a military one into apolitical party and declared its commitment to Sudan’s unity option. It has full right to nominate its leader for the presidential election and this is a legitimate right over which there is no reservation or objection because the door to nominations for the presidential election is open to all citizens. We accepted the democratic change and the peaceful rotation of power and that the ballot box should be the decider. Whoever gets a majority rules and the minority becomes the opposition within the framework of protecting the homeland’s unity and safety and commitment to pluralism and the democratic system.
[Asharq Al-Awsat] What is your view of the Security Council’s extension of the hybrid forces in Darfur for another year?
[Al-Mirghani] We welcome it within the framework of protecting the safety of the Darfur people. We hope there is a quick political and comprehensive solution for Darfur and all of Sudan so as to achieve the required stability and prevent any further extension for the hybrid forces in Darfur.