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Cablegate: Unrestrained Bashir Defies Icc Before Friendly Audience

R 041344Z AUG 08
FM AMEMBASSY KHARTOUM
TO SECSTATE WASHDC 1510
INFO DARFUR COLLECTIVE

UNCLAS KHARTOUM 001173


STATE FOR AF/SPG, AF/PD, IIP/G/AF, RRU/AF

E.O. 12958: N/A
TAGS: PREL PGOV PHUM KPAO OIIP SU
SUBJECT: Unrestrained Bashir Defies ICC Before Friendly Audience

REF: KHARTOUM 1117


1. Summary: Sudanese President Omar Al-Bashir's defiant speech
against the International Criminal Court (ICC) received widespread
and prominent coverage in the local press on August 4. Papers from
across the political spectrum carried reports of the speech on the
front page, complete with photos of the Sudanese leader addressing
his supporters from various international and regional labor
organizations. None of the newspapers opposed Bashir's speech in
any way. The Sudanese President had been very restrained in talking
about the ICC to date, allowing surrogates to take on the subject
for him. End Summary.

2. Bashir addressed a "Popular Rally for Solidarity with Sudan"
under the slogan "Stop Targeting Sudan" organized by the
regime-controlled Sudan Workers Trade Unions Federation in
collaboration with the International Confederation of Arab Trade
Unions at the Friendship Hall in Khartoum on August 4. Bashir
announced that he would not cooperate with the International
Criminal Court. On July 14, ICC Chief Prosecutor Luis Moreno-Ocampo
announced that he would be seeking arrest warrant for Bashir in
relation to allegations that the president was responsible for
genocide and war crimes in Darfur.

3. "Akher Lahza," a pro-government daily, ran a headline that quoted
Bashir saying, "America, France and Britain are launching a campaign
to recolonize Sudan." It also cited Bashir saying that he would not
"recognize the International (or what seemingly calls itself
International) Criminal Court," saying that this would mean denying
Sudan its sovereignty, as well as its legal, political, and
diplomatic rights.

4. "Al-Watan," a daily independent newspaper that was formerly run
by the Umma Party of Saddig Al-Mahdi, had a headline that quoted the
Sudanese President as saying, "Colonial countries need to wash the
blood off their hands." Bashir also said that Sudan had been able
to end the longest war in Africa, so why wouldn't it be able to end
the war in Darfur? According to the newspaper, Bashir added that
"superpowers in the world" wanted to re-colonize Sudan by initiating
their war agendas. Bashir reportedly said these countries should
leave the "poor people alone" to pursue their own means of
stability. He also requested the colonizers (referring to France
and Great Britain) to apologize to their former colonies for the
bloodshed they had caused, asking them to return the looted
resources they had taken from these lands. He noted that the UK had
killed tens of thousands of Sudanese during the time of the Mahdi.

5. Even "Al-Sudani," an independent daily, and "Agras Al-Hurrya," a
daily sponsored by the Sudan People's Liberation Movement (SPLM),
highlighted Bashir's defiance of the ICC. Several newspapers
published editorials not necessarily related to the speech seemingly
siding with Bashir as he pointed fingers of blame at the U.S.,
France, and Britain accusing them of conspiring against Sudan in an
attempt to re-colonize Africa.

6. One pro-government daily newspaper, "Al-Sharia Al-Siyasi," ran a
column by Izzat Izzeldin entitled, "It's time ... for America to dig
its own grave." The author accused the U.S. of being singlehandedly
responsible for a series of events in Sudan, including last May's
attack by Darfur rebels in Omdurman and the ICC prosecutor's
accusations against Bashir. The author said these were part of the
Bush Administration's attempt to help boost Republican Senator John
McCain's election chances in November. The writer mentioned that
America has only made greater enemies and is digging its own grave.

7. Comment: NCP leaders had convinced President Bashir to allow them
to bash the ICC while he took the high road. That strategy certainly
held for a few weeks, but this very friendly audience and support he
has gotten from the AU and Arab League (AU Chairman Ping arrived in
Khartoum on August 4) seemed to have - for now - emboldened the
Sudanese President, at least in his use of colorful language to
condemn the West.


FERNANDEZ

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