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from Global News Journal:
It's more than six years since mostly non-Arab rebels in Sudan's western Darfur region revolted after accusing Khartoum of neglecting their remote corner of Africa's biggest country. Khartoum's U.N. ambassador, Abdalmahmoud Abdalhaleem, declared in New York this week that the "war in Darfur is over."
But Luis Moreno-Ocampo, the chief prosecutor of the International Criminal Court (ICC) in The Hague, disagrees. Although levels of violence in Darfur have fallen, he told the Security Council that crimes "are continuing." He said those crimes include indiscriminate bombings of civilians, creation of inhumane conditions for displaced people in order to "exterminate" them, rapes and sexual violence, and the use of child soldiers.
The ICC has already issued arrest warrants for Sudanese President Omar Hassan al-Bashir, another government official and a former Janjaweed militia leader for war crimes in a government-led counter-insurgency campaign that drove more than 2 million from their homes. The United Nations says as many as 300,000 people have died since the conflict erupted in 2003, but Khartoum rejects that figure.
The ICC has also charged three rebels in connection with an attack on African Union peacekeepers in 2007. One rebel showed up in The Hague to defend himself but Bashir and the others remain at large. Western diplomats say Bashir's arrest is not a top priority now since it could destroy the stalled Darfur peace process. Khartoum refuses to cooperate with the ICC and its chief prosecutor, whom Abdalhaleem branded a "mercenary of death and destruction." (Moreno-Ocampo countered by declaring that Sudanese officials who deny that crimes were committed in Darfur could themselves face prosecution.)
U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon said in his latest report to the Security Council that U.N./African Union peacekeepers in Darfur were being harassed and threatened by Sudanese government forces and rebels. (As if to illustrate the point, two Rwandan peacekeepers were shot dead in an ambush in North Darfur on Friday.) Ban said that civilians in Darfur remain at risk of violence as the Sudanese military continues to clash with rebel groups. The world body has also warned that the population of Darfur may be left out of next year's nationwide elections, the first in 24 years, due to mass displacement of the population and volatile security.
But Khartoum and the rebels determined to topple Bashir's government may not be the only problem. The former head of a U.N. panel charged with investigating violations of a 2005 arms embargo for Darfur accused the United States and other members of the Security Council of "selling out" the Darfur sanctions.