- The United Nations has vowed to keep its forces in Sudan despite reprisal threats by Sudanese people after the indictment request of President Omar Al-Bashir on charges of war crimes and genocide in the war torn Darfur region by the International Criminal Court.
ICC is expected rule on President Al Bashir's arrest warrant on 4 March.
The Under-Secretary-General for Peacekeeping Operations, Alan Le Roy, said that he is assured that peacekeepers in Darfur will not come under threat should the ICC indict President Al-Bashir.
In November last year, Assistant Secretary-General for Peacekeeping Edmond said ICC’s request to issue an arrest warrant against President Al-Bashir could have serious security implications for the joint UN and African Union mission peacekeepers.
Mr Le Roy said the Sudanese government would assume its full duty of protecting the UN missions in Sudan against any negative impact that may result from the ICC possible decision against the Sudanese political leadership.
He said the UN had no information on whether the ICC will issue an arrest warrant, indicating that the Court in The Hague is an independent body and will announce its decision as stipulated by the guiding rules.
“We are not informed of their final decision. Anyone can guess. Of course, we are making some plans as any country would have contingency planning to try to react to any situation,” said Mr Le Roy.
Mr Le Roy said that there is no plan in place to scale down the UN peacekeeping missions in the Sudan.
In July, ICC Chief Prosecutor Luis Moreno-Ocampo charged President Al-Bashir with orchestrating a campaign of genocide in the Darfur region beginning in 2003, that is said to have killed 35,000 people outright and at least another 100,000 through starvation and disease.
The charges include war crimes, crimes against humanity and genocide. UN officials say the Darfur conflict has left as many as 300,000 dead and 2.5 million homeless since mostly non-Arab rebels took up arms against government in 2003.
Meanwhile ICC’s chief prosecutor said he has more than 30 people who have agreed to testify against the president. However, Mr Bashir has consistently denied the war crime charges.
United Nations has a 9,200-strong peacekeeping force deployed in the semiautonomous southern Sudan to enforce a 2005 agreement which ended Africa's longest civil war, and it has a joint UN-African Union force in Darfur now totaling about 11,500 troops.
The UN estimates that up to 2.7 million people have been forced from their homes and some 300,000 have died during five years of conflict in Darfur.
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