UNITED NATIONS – An arrest warrant for Sudan's President Omar al-Bashir on charges of genocide in Darfur could trigger "an uncontrolled reaction" against U.N. peacekeepers, a senior U.N. official warned Wednesday.
Assistant Secretary-General for Peacekeeping Edmond Mulet told the U.N. Security Council the request by the prosecutor of the International Criminal Court for an arrest warrant against al-Bashir "could have serious security and other implications" for U.N. peacekeepers.
The United Nations has a 9,200-strong peacekeeping force deployed in semiautonomous southern Sudan to enforce a 2005 agreement which ended Africa's longest civil war, and it has a joint U.N.-African Union force in Darfur now totaling about 11,500 troops.
Mulet said the request for al-Bashir's arrest could also "potentially derail" the 2005 agreement which ended 21 years of civil war between Sudan's Muslim government in the north and the Christian and animist rebels in the south that left an estimated 2 million people dead.
On Oct. 16, judges at the International Criminal Court gave chief prosecutor Luis Moreno Ocampo one month to provide more evidence against Sudan's president before deciding whether to issue an arrest warrant.
Mulet said the U.N. force monitoring the north-south peace agreement, "will ensure that security measures are in place in the event of an indictment."
"However, we are concerned about suggestions of an uncontrolled reaction to an indictment by the population," he said.
He said he was also concerned about government officials' statements they intend to expel U.N. staff or missions believed to have cooperated with the court.
Al-Bashir has denied any involvement in genocide or crimes against humanity. The Arab League and the African Union want the U.N. Security Council to suspend the court's investigation.