CAIRO (AFP) — Egypt called on Tuesday for the International Criminal Court to delay for a year any war crimes indictment against Sudanese President Omar al-Beshir, while efforts are under way to end fighting in Darfur.
Foreign Minister Ahmed Abul Gheit made the comments after a rare visit to Sudan by Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak on Monday when he discussed the Darfur conflict with Beshir.
Abul Gheit cited an ICC clause that allows for the deferral of war crimes investigations for one year at the request of the UN Security Council, the official MENA news agency reported.
"In this period we could, with Egyptian, African and international efforts, achieve reconciliation in Sudan," it quoted Abul Gheit as saying.
Beshir was accused by ICC chief prosecutor Luis Moreno-Ocampo in July of instructing his forces to annihilate non-Arab ethnic groups in Darfur, masterminding murder, torture, pillaging and the use of rape to commit genocide.
However, no ICC warrant has been issued for Beshir.
"Our view is that it is not permissible to accuse the leader of a nation as it goes through exceedingly tumultuous conditions, and the problem of Darfur is very complicated," MENA quoted Abul Gheit as saying.
Qatar is due to host Sudanese reconciliation talks later this year, which the largest Darfur rebel group Justice and Equality Movement has said it would not join, although it would send observers.
The African Union and the Arab League has asked the United Nations to delay a decision by the ICC on whether to arrest Beshir, and Libya and South Africa in July submitted a proposal supporting this to the United Nations.
In 2007, the ICC issued warrants for a Sudanese minister, Ahmed Haroun, and militia leader Ali Kosheib for war crimes in Darfur. Sudan says it has detained Kosheib and will prosecute him but says there are no grounds to prosecute Haroun, nor to extradite either of them.
The United Nations says that up to 300,000 people have died and more than 2.2 million have fled their homes since the Darfur conflict erupted in February 2003. Sudan says 10,000 have been killed.
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