Arab League seeks compromises in Sudan-ICC crisis

In an effort to avoid possible prosecution of the Sudanese president on genocide charges, an Arab League committee formed during an emergency meeting on Saturday is trying to draw up a conciliatory statement to solve the crisis between Sudan and the International Criminal Court (ICC), diplomatic sources said.

The cirsis erupted when ICC Chief Prosecutor Luis Moreno-Ocampo asked the court on Monday to issue an arrest warrant for Sudanese President Omar al-Bashir on suspicion of genocide, war crimes and crimes against humanity.

In their meeting in the Cairo headquarters of the Arab League, Arab foreign ministers discussed a number of proposals to find some legal leeway out of the crisis.

A committee, made up of the foreign ministers of Egypt, Saudi Arabia, Yemen and Sudan, is trying to draw up a final statement in which the positions of Khartoum and the ICC would be reconciled.

The final statement of the emergency meeting would stress the dangerous consequences of the ICC move on peace prospects in Darfur, the diplomats predicted.

The statement is likely to warn the ICC that issuing an arrest warrant for a president of a sovereign state would be a serious precedent.

Al-Bashir is accused of waging a campaign of genocide against three Darfur tribes which has claimed the lives of hundreds of thousands and displaced about 2.5 million people from their homes in the western Sudanese province.

The ICC is expected to rule in October or November whether to issue the warrant.

Khartoum has refused a deal with the ICC to hand over two indicted Sudanese officials to court in return for dropping the request for the arrest warrant.

The two officials are Ahmed Harun, Sudan's Minister of Humanitarian Affairs, and Ali Kushayb, a militia leader.

The Arab ministers seek to find a conciliatory solution that would meet the minimum demand of both sides, Arab diplomats told Deutsche Presse-Agentur, dpa.

A proposal that would call for a trial of the two officials in Sudan under international supervision would be examined by the ministers, the diplomats said.

Under another proposal, which has been mooted in Arab diplomatic circles, a trial of the two officials would take place in an African country and would be attended by ICC representatives.

The Arab League ministers are expected to call for a halt to the ICC move for a year in order to give the various parties to the Darfur conflict more time to reach a solution.

The Arab body argues that Sudan does not recognize the authority of the ICC, hence its president should not be tried by the court.

The league acknowledges, however, violations committed by al-Bashir's regime in Darfur, the diplomats said, according to dpa.

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