KHARTOUM, Sudan (AP) – Sudan may revert to a hard-line Islamic regime if the International Criminal Court indicts the country’s president over alleged war crimes in Darfur, said Sudan’s powerful intelligence chief.
The comments by Salah Abdallah published in Saturday’s newspapers come as the Hague-based court is weighing whether to seek the arrest of President Omar al-Bashir. He’s accused by the court’s prosecutor of masterminding attempts to wipe out African tribes in Darfur with a campaign of murder, rape and deportation.
“Our message to those who stand behind the ICC is that we were Islamic fundamentalists but have become moderate and civilized and this continues to be our conviction,” Abdallah said. “If they press us to return to our past position, we will no doubt return. And if they want us to return into hardliners anew, that is a simple thing to do. And we are capable of doing it.”
According to the newspaper reports, Abdallah was speaking at a celebration Friday night in Khartoum attended by southern Sudanese politicians and intelligence officials.
During the early 1990s, Sudan was accused of sheltering Islamic militant groups; Osama bin Laden made his home here until the government threw him out in 1996.
The United Nations says up to 300,000 people have been killed in the six-year old Darfur conflict, which erupted when mostly ethnic African rebels took up arms against the central, mostly Arab government, complaining of discrimination and neglect.
Sudan refuses to recognize the international court and says the U.N.’s figures are exaggerated.
Salah said the ICC was a repeat of “previous allegations leveled by the Jewish lobby groups” and stressed the government would pay no attention. “We will pay no attention to the (ICC Chief Prosecutor) Ocampo or the ICC and will continue to achieve peace (in Darfur) and to remedy the problem,” he said. “We will continue our efforts as a responsible state to secure civilians and protect foreigners and foreign organizations and all other foreign presence that respect their roles according to the stipulations of agreements signed with the Sudan. But whoever contradict this or tries to trespass the marked boundaries, they have only themselves to blame,” he stressed.
It was not clear exactly who Abdallah was referring to but there have been concerns that an indictment against al-Bashir would result in foreign aid organizations including U.N. agencies being kicked out of Darfur and Sudan.