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Ethiopia slams ICC decision against Sudanese president

March 5, 2009 (ADDIS ABABA) – The Ethiopian government condemned today the arrest warrant issued yesterday against the Sudanese President saying it is against the interest of Sudan and Africa.

Ethiopia, the host country of the African Union headquarters, reminded it is statement the AU position on the case which supports President Al-Bashir and requests the deferral of the ICC jurisdiction on Darfur crimes in order to settle the conflict politically.

"It would not be wise, prudent and in conformity with what would be in the interest of the people of the Sudan, our sub-region and Africa as a whole" said the statement on Thursday. It further recalled that at its first meeting on the matter, the AU’s Peace and Security Council decided to request the Security Council, in conformity with Article 16 of the Rome Statute, for a deferral.

"The Government of Ethiopia has been saddened by this latest development and requests the Security Council to respond favorably to the request already made by the AU, a request which reflects the sentiments of Africa as a whole."

Ethiopia, which is not a state party to the ICC, would be the first country to receive the Sudanese President after the issuance of the arrest warrant. Al-Bashir should lead the Sudanese delegation to attend the Ethiopian Sudanese Higher Committee which will be held in Addis Ababa on March 10.

The AU’s Peace and Security Council decided today after an emergency meeting to send a high-level delegation to press the UN Security Council to delay the indictment of Sudanese President for a year.

Also the Arab League, which adopted a similar decision yesterday, said today it would coordinate its efforts with the African Union.

After nine months since a request of arrest warrant for the Sudanese President filed by the ICC prosecutor, the Pre-Trial Chamber 1 followed Occampo’s findings on the counts of crimes against humanity and war crimes and responded positively to his request.

(ST)