Sudanese president holds rallies in Darfur amid genocide charges

July 23, 2008 22:51


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On his first visit to Darfur since being charged with genocide and other crimes against humanity, Sudan's president on Wednesday took notes as he listened to residents of the wasted region, and broke out in a tribal dance on a parched field in front of thousands of cheering supporters. President Omar al-Bashir, dressed in a beige summer suit and dark sunglasses, exuded defiance but also sought to cast himself as a peacemaker, not war criminal, in fiery speeches on the same troubled land where he is accused of genocide. For hours, state television broadcast live footage of thousands of Africans in brightly colored tunics screaming "God is great!" and waving banners reading "No! No! to the prosecutor!" and "We are with you, al-Bashir!" Last week, the International Criminal Court's prosecutor filed 10 charges against Bashir for allegedly masterminding a campaign of extermination and rape specifically targeting three Darfur tribes. The United Nations says about 300,000 people have died and 2.5 million have been uprooted over the past five years.

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