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Al Bashir denies use of chemical weapons in Darfur

October 24 - 2016 KHARTOUM / PARIS / INNSBRUCK
President Omar Al Bashir addresses top officials of his ruling National Congress Party in Khartoum, August 2015 (Ashraf Shazly/AFP)
President Omar Al Bashir addresses top officials of his ruling National Congress Party in Khartoum, August 2015 (Ashraf Shazly/AFP)

In his first comment on the recent report by Amnesty International (AI) about the alleged use of chemical weapons by the Sudan government in Darfur, President Omar Al Bashir said he considers it as “totally false claims”. Sudanese in Innsbruck in Austria took to the streets on Sunday in protest against the Jebel Marra attacks. 

Addressing the Shura Council of the National Congress Party on Friday, Al Bashir sharply denounced the AI report. He accused the armed movements of high treason by plotting against the State with support of “foreign entities”, and gave them two options: settle for peace or accept defeat.

The president further accused the South Sudanese authorities of harbouring Sudanese armed movements, and gave them two months to expel the rebels. “We are keen to relationship and peace with the Republic of South Sudan. But they must also implement what they are committed to,” he said.

In Scorched Earth, Poisoned Air, released on 29 September, AI features satellite images, survivor testimonies, and photos to confirm the occurrence of “war crimes” in Sudan’s war-torn western region. Using satellite imagery, in-depth interviews with survivors and expert analysis of images, the investigation indicates that at least 30 likely chemical attacks have taken place in Darfur’s Jebel Marra area since January this year.

“Al Bashir cannot deny a crime that has been proven by evidences on the ground”, Abdelwahid Mohamed El Nur, the head of the mainstream Sudan Liberation Movement, commented to Radio Dabanga on Sunday.

“During the past years, Al Bashir pledged every year again that he would crush the resistance forces in the next dry season. Yet, he did not succeed and used chemical weapons instead. He even declared the end of the rebellion this year.”

The rebel leader urged the Sudanese president to turn himself in to the International Criminal Court, and appealed to the Sudanese people “to unite and uproot the regime, and hold its leaders accountable for their crimes”.

The Sudan People’s Liberation Movement-North (SPLM-N) announced in a statement on Friday that it decided to suspend “all political engagement” with the Sudanese government because of its alleged use of chemical weapons against citizens. The rebel movement will “be ready only to negotiate a humanitarian cessation of hostilities in the Blue Nile and South Kordofan”.  

Demonstration in Austria

On Sunday, dozens of Sudanese in Innsbruck, the capital of Tyrol in Austria, took to the streets in protest against the alleged use of chemical weapons in Jebel Marra. Australians and some members of the Tyrol Parliament participated in the demonstration.

They demanded from the UN, the UN Security Council, and the AU Peace and Security Council to conduct an immediate investigation and bring the perpetrators to justice.

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