VICTORIA FALLS, June 8 (Reuters) - Sudanese President Omar Hassan al-Bashir said on Monday an arrest warrant issued against him by the International Criminal Court (ICC) was part of a futile plot to isolate and fragment his country.
Bashir, who travelled to Zimbabwe for an African economic summit in defiance of the warrant, told the conference that Sudan was committed to finding peace in the Darfur region but was facing foreign interference.
“It (the ICC warrant) is an action aimed at isolating Sudan and eventually fragmenting and dividing our country,” he said.
“But through our own efforts and resources we are going to overcome such designs,” he said in a speech delivered in Arabic and translated into English by an official.
A defiant Bashir has travelled to several countries that are not members of the ICC since March, when the court issued a warrant for his arrest over charges of crimes against humanity in Sudan’s conflict-ridden Darfur region.
Bashir has visited Qatar, Saudi Arabia, Egypt, Eritrea, Ethiopia and Libya, and on Monday he said Sudan was committed to African solidarity for social and economic development on the continent.
“The people of Sudan have a desire to live in peace and harmony. However, this has been impeded by foreign interference, ... by people arming rebels in Darfur,” he said.
Darfur’s insurgency began in 2003 with rebels claiming they had been neglected by central government. Khartoum quickly tried to quash the now much-divided rebels with troops and allied militias.
The United Nations has said as many as 300,000 people may have been killed. Khartoum puts the death toll at 10,000. (Reporting by MacDonald Dzirutwe)