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Sudan may expel more aid groups, diplomats

SUDANESE President Omar Hassan al-Bashir threatened yesterday to kick out diplomats and more aid groups, brandishing a sword at a Darfur rally days after a Hague court issued a warrant against him for war crimes.

Sudan has already closed 13 foreign and three local aid groups, saying they helped the International Criminal Court, which last week issued the arrest warrant for Bashir on charges of crimes against humanity and war crimes in Darfur.

"We expelled the organizations because they threatened the security of Sudan," Bashir told a rally in El Fasher, capital of north Darfur. "We will expel anyone who goes against Sudanese law, whether they are voluntary organizations, diplomatic missions or security forces."

Bashir waved the sword as he rallied the crowd after a speech in which he insulted the court, poured scorn on the West and defended the decision to close down the humanitarian groups.

Bashir shouted out a list of atrocities he said had been carried out by the West, from the mass killing of Native Americans during the foundation of the United States, to the bombings of Hiroshima, Vietnam and Iraq.

"They killed millions of Indians ... Why are they not on trial," he said.

"The International Criminal Court and everyone who works for it are under my feet," he added, a serious insult across the Arab world.

Thousands of people, many riding horses and camels, waved banners and flags to greet Bashir, who rode into the town waving from the back of an open pick-up truck.

Some members of the crowd taunted ICC Chief Prosecutor Luis Moreno-Ocampo. One man was seen leading a donkey with an Ocampo mask over its head, while others carried a model of a dog with Ocampo's name written on the side.

Before the expulsions, the United Nations and aid groups were running the world's largest humanitarian operation in Darfur where, international experts say, almost six years of conflict has killed 200,000 people and displaced more than 2.7 million people from their homes.

Foreign Ministry Undersecretary Mutrif Siddig told the state Suna news agency that the aid groups' cooperation with the ICC had been "proved by evidence".

Siddig was also quoted by the Sudanese Media Center as saying government agencies would cover the programs left by the expelled aid groups, with help from remaining foreign and local organizations.

The expelled groups, including Oxfam and Save the Children, have denied helping the court and warned the closure of their programs will have a devastating impact on hundreds of thousands of Sudanese people in Darfur and beyond.


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