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Western officials to avoid Bashir during South Sudan independence celebrations

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July 7, 2011 (WASHINGTON) – Officials in the Government of South Sudan (GoSS) have made arrangements so that Western officials can avoid contact with President Omer Hassan al-Bashir during the ceremony marking the birth of the new state, a newspaper reported today.

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Sudanese President Omer Hassan al-Bashir (Reuters)

Bashir has been charged by the International Criminal Court (ICC) on ten counts of war crimes, crimes against humanity and genocide he allegedly masterminded in Sudan’s western region of Darfur since the conflict there erupted in 2003.

He is the first sitting head of state indicted by the Hague tribunal.

A senior Western official in Sudan, who spoke on the condition of anonymity, told Washington Times that Southern officials have assured the diplomatic corps in Juba they will do everything to avoid any embarrassments.

"The government is sensitive to these concerns and is going to do everything possible to make sure there are no embarrassments of any sort, on any side, on that day," the official said. "They are conscious that this might be awkward to Bashir as well."

Many Western and UN officials have adopted a policy of not meeting with the Sudanese leader following the issuance of the arrest warrant.

Today the French foreign minister Alain Juppe affirmed that he will not make any contact with Bashir during his presence in Juba at the independence celebrations.

"Just because Bashir is there does not mean that we should not show our support," Juppe told reporters.

France’s top diplomat said he would try to avoid an encounter with Bashir by remaining among the international dignitaries attending such as UN chief Ban Ki-moon and British Foreign Minister William Hague.

US officials said that their participating delegation will adopt the same stance.

The US Ambassador to the United Nations Susan Rice will lead the delegation to Juba consisting of Colin Powell, the former Secretary of State and Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff; and Donald Payne, US Representative from New Jersey and Ranking Member of House Foreign Affairs Subcommittee on Africa, Global Health, and Human Rights.

Johnnie Carson, Assistant Secretary of State for the Bureau of African Affairs, and Princeton Lyman, the US Special Envoy to Sudan, also will join the delegation.

Brooke Anderson, Deputy National Security Advisor, Chief of Staff and Counselor for the National Security Staff; Donald Steinberg, Deputy Administrator, USAID; and General Carter Ham, Commander, US Africa Command, were to take part as well.

Representative Payne told the Washington Times that he has no intention of meeting Bashir.

"If the U.S. delegation decides to meet with President Bashir, I will not attend," he said.

Barrie Walkley, the US consul general in Juba, said there are no plans for the US delegation to meet Gen. Bashir.

"That is U.S. policy," he said.

A special seating arrangement has been worked out to minimise the possibility of blushing faces.

Southern Sudanese President Salva Kiir will be seated alongside Bashir at the ceremony, which will be held at the mausoleum of John Garang, who led the Sudan People’s Liberation Army (SPLA) during the North-South civil war.

African delegations that have been largely sympathetic to Bashir will be seated on his side. Western and non-African delegations will be seated on Kiir’s side.

"It is a way of separating Bashir from those who might feel uncomfortable in his presence," said the senior Western diplomat. "That way, when the heads of the Western delegations come up to give a speech they won’t have to walk past Bashir."

A US State Department official, who spoke on the condition of anonymity citing the sensitive nature of the issue, said the US is committed to international efforts to bring Bashir to justice.

(ST)

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  • 8 July 2011 09:56, by jur_likang_a_ likan’g

    Donald Payne is a true human right fighter who stands for what he believes in. It can not be underestimated that his fight together in addition to the fight of Sen. Bill Frist, Sen. Frank Wolf and others worked to make this day a reality. Most importantly our brother President George W Bush and President Barrack Obama who is a champion of freedom all over the world. This day is as much for us as it is for them.

    repondre message

    • 8 July 2011 16:55, by Waucity

      Bashir said, that after independence he was going to make people even go more crazy than before...I heard him say that in one of his videos...He is a very immoral arab and he is taking advantage of our Sudanese culture, that we just happen to respect leaders no matter what...This is what he is taking advantage of. We support him during his Icc when he almost, and now that he lives, he is killing us...I hate you Bashir, I hate you arabs.

      repondre message

  • 8 July 2011 09:56, by Dicksons Deng

    Please give Bashir a peace of mind to celebrate with us! afterall he ’s still the president of Sudan till after the 9th july.
    ICC should wait to arrest him later in Khartoum.
    Give him time for peaceful transition.

    repondre message

    • 8 July 2011 11:04, by Cibaipiath Junub Sudan

      I wish if this position could have been revealed earlier. I could tell the widows, orphans and disables to prepare banners for that day to show to the world that Bashir had reduced the population of South Sudan for 21 years through killings using SAF, Militias and Aerial bombardments. The death casualities recorded in the CPA was wrong. Bashir killed more that 2.5 million people in the South. Widows, orphans and disable will also avoid meeting Bashir or clapping their hands if Bashir alleged barbaric statements of pretend.

      repondre message

      • 8 July 2011 12:33, by Abikach Ayuel

        He deserves isolation for the rest of his life even being arrested and sent to Hague ! Damn son of a bitch does not need to be invited in the 1st place for instead of his deputy who deserves honour in the eye of South Sudan !

        repondre message

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