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Mbeki's panel to meet ICC prosecutor over Bashir's warrant.

May 2, 2009 (KHARTOUM) -- The former South African president Thabo Mbeki who heads a panel to look into the Darfur crisis said he will meet with the prosecutor of the International Criminal Court Luis Moreno-Ocampo sometime in the future.

Frromer South African President Thabo Mbeki (Reuters)

Mbeki speaking at from the Ethiopian capital said that he will discuss the arrest warrant issued by the ICC last month for Sudanese president Omer Hassan Al-Bashir in connection with war crimes in Darfur. "We have some contacts with the ICC, with the prosecutor, Mr. Ocampo, and we have agreed that we would find an occasion as soon as possible to meet face to face with him" he said. It is not clear what both men would discuss upon their meeting. The prosecutor said implied last March that Mbeki's panel will have the task of seeking accountability measure for suspects other than Bashir or the two others wanted by the ICC on the Darfur case. The prosecutor has no power under the Rome Statute to scrap arrest warrant that has been approved by the judges. The arrest warrant has been criticized by the African Union (AU) saying it will severely impede peace efforts throughout Sudan. Some African politicians have accused the court of being biased against their continent. Last February the AU formed the AU panel in response to the imminent issuance of an ICC arrest warrant ICC against Bashir. The commission has been tasked with looking into ways to balance accountability with bringing peace into Darfur and will submit a report to the summit next July. The eight-member panel is comprised of three former African heads of state including South Africa's Thabo Mbeki, Burundi's Pierre Buyoya and Nigeria's General Abu Salam Abu-Bakr. Other members of the panel include Director of African Rights Rakiya Abdullahi Omar from Somalia, former minister TiE[umlaut]blE[umlaut] DramE[umlaut] from Mali, Special Envoy of former President Olusegun Obasanjo on the Trial of suspects of war crimes and human rights violations in Darfur Al-Hajji Mohammed from Nigeria, Judge Florence Mumba from Zambia, and former Foreign Minister of Egypt Ahmed Maher. The panel visited Egypt and Chad as part of their regional tour that will take them to Libya, Eritrea and Saudi Arabia as parties with interest in the Darfur conflict. Darfuri refugees at the camps in Chad told the panel that they want the arrest warrant against Bashir executed. Mbeki also in Chad that normalizing ties between Khartoum and N'Djamena is a prerequisite for peace in Darfur. "The relations between Chad and Sudan should be normalized, if not it will be difficult to find a solution to the Darfur crisis" he said. Delegations from Sudan and Chad are meeting in Qatar to discuss mending relations between the two sides. Previous reconciliation attempts brokered by different countries have failed. Mbeki said that he will continue touring and listening to different parties on the issue of Darfur. "We are still on a listening tour. We wanted to go to Sudan and visit the neighbors of Sudan. People are in the process of identifying what they believe are the crucial issues that have to be addressed to bring peace in Sudan: he said. UN experts estimate some 300,000 people have died and 2.5 million driven from their homes. Sudan blames the Western media for exaggerating the conflict and puts the death toll at 10,000. (ST)

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Publication:Sudan Tribune (Sudan)
Geographic Code:6SUDA
Date:May 3, 2009
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