Sudan: bishop says Bashir's indictment has split the nation

 The indictment of President Omar Al-Bashir for genocide and crimes against humanity in Darfur by the International Criminal Court in the Hague has divided the country, according to a Catholic bishop in the troubled western province. While the people of Darfur are happy with the development, demonstrations have broken out in support of the president in Khartoum and other parts of the country, Bishop Antonio Menegazzo of El Obeid said. "Demonstrations supporting the president have already started in El Obeid. This morning all the schools participated in a great demonstration in the centre of the town. Surely, in the coming days other groups will do the same, Bishop Menegazzo told CISA. There is tension in the country and "everybody is on alert, especially the United Nations and African Union peacekeepers and staff. However, the bishop said, "the people of Darfur are satisfied, even those of South Sudan. "The contrary will be [the case] for the other parts of the Sudan. The general reaction will be against the indictment, and the demonstrations have already started in Khartoum. We expect demonstrations outside Khartoum as well. Even those opposed to Omar al-Bashir will support him against the interference by the ICC. Even the peace process for Darfur will suffer. ICC chief prosecutor Luis Moreno-Ocampo on Monday formally charged President al-Bashir, stating that the president "bears criminal responsibility in relation to ten counts of genocide, crimes against humanity and war crimes in Darfur. Al-Bashir masterminded and implemented a plan to destroy the Fur, Masalit and Zaghawa groups, on account of their ethnicity in Darfur, according to Mr. Moreno-Ocampo. He requested for an arrest warrant for the Sudanese president. If ICC judges of Pre-Trial Chamber I conclude that the arrest of al-Bashir appears necessary to ensure his appearance at trial or to ensure that he does not obstruct or endanger the investigations, or to prevent him from continuing with the commission of the alleged crimes, they may issue an arrest warrant. The international community was divided over the indictment, with some observers saying the move could further destabilize the country. But human rights groups welcomed the indictment, saying it showed that nobody, however, high up should get away with impunity. An official of eight-nation Association of Member Episcopal Conferences of Eastern Africa (AMECEA), welcomed Mr. Moreno Ocampo,s action. If the allegations made against President al-Bashir are true, then justice must be pursued, said Fr Jude Waweru, AMECEA Justice and Peace Coordinator in Nairobi. "If it is true that President al-Bashir has contributed in the war crimes in the Sudan, I think justice has to be pursued. He has been there all these years and how has he contributed to peace in the country? He has not delivered. If he is guilty, his arrest will benefit the African continent, where leaders mismanage resources and oppress the people. Bishop Menegazzo said it was still too early to foresee what will happen in future. "Do not forget that politics in the Moslem world are always tied up with religion, even if religion has nothing to do with this case. The indictment is coming from Europe; the ICC resides in a Christian country. Source: CISA

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