World Bulletin / News Desk
Sudan's president says the genocide charges leveled against him are part of a global campaign to topple his government, divide the country and steal its oil resources.
In an interview with the Arabic news channel Al-Arabiya late Friday, Omar al-Bashir said there are forces behind the International Criminal Court seeking to drive him from power before next year's elections.
A prosecutor at the Netherlands-based court filed genocide and war crimes charges against him on July 14, accusing him of orchestrating a campaign of killing and rape in Darfur.
Al-Bashir did not specify who those powers were, but he strongly criticised the U.S. government's policies in the Middle East saying Washington of seeking to weaken Arab nations for the sake of Israel's security.
He did admit that Sudan was in talks with the U.S. to resolve the Darfur crisis. U.S. envoy Richard Williamson was in Sudan on Aug. 12 when he called for a speeding up of the deployment of the U.N.-African Union peacekeeping forces.
Al-Bashir, however, also said the U.S. of wanting to divide the country and take control of its natural resources.
"Darfur sits on a lake of oil," he said. "We don't mind if they share it with us, we just don't want them to take it all."
Sudan, which is one of Africa's largest oil producers, has maintained that further reserves lie beneath the troubled Darfur region, but unrest there has prevented any confirmation.
The independent daily Sudan Tribune reported in July that the government was in talks with Chinese and Saudi companies to conduct seismic surveys in the northern Darfur desert to ascertain the size of any potential reserves.
Rebels factions use the vast desert in northern Darfur as a logistical base where they get water and other supplies and can move freely between Chad, Libya and Sudan.
Al-Bashir also said those driving the international tribunal's Darfur case feared the elections he has promised toward the end of 2009, which could be Sudan's freest and fairest in decades, would give his government legitimacy.
"This tribunal aims to topple the current government to make a new Sudan, a Sudan that is free of Arabs and far from Islam," he said in the interview, which was recorded Wednesday in Istanbul, where he was attending a summit of African leaders.
The war in Darfur began in 2003 as a crackdown on anti-government rebels who complained their arid region was neglected by Khartoum. The U.N. estimates 300,000 people have died, directly from attacks or indirectly through starvation.
The international tribunal's prosecutor accuses Sudan's forces and their militia proxies of deliberately targeting civilians by destroying villages and raping women.
Güncelleme Tarihi: 23 Ağustos 2008, 12:46