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Defiant Sudanese President visits Darfur -

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Reporter: Meredith Griffiths

ELEANOR HALL: Sudan's President, Omar al-Bashir, has responded defiantly to the International
Criminal Court's warrant for his arrest on war crimes charges, by visiting the region where the war
crimes allegedly took place.

While many Darfur residents support the charges, President al-Bashir was greeted by supporters
during his first visit to the region since the warrant was issued.

And he used his address to issue more threats to aid agencies.

Meredith Griffiths has our report.

MEREDITH GRIFFITHS: After a warrant was issued for his arrest last week, President Omar al-Bashir
told rallies in the Sudanese capital of Khartoum, it was a colonialist ploy by nations targeting
the country for its oil and natural gas.

Now he's taken the message to Darfur itself.

President al-Bashir has travelled to the state capital of El-Fasher in the heart of the region
where he's accused of ordering murder, rape, and torture.

(Sound of rallying crowds)

Thousands of people, some on camels or horseback, lined the route from the airport to welcome him,
some holding up posters of the chief prosecutor of the International Criminal Court, with a large X
drawn over his face.

Some analysts say the President placed himself in personal danger by visiting El-Fasher, because
most people in Darfur are said to support the war crimes indictment against him.

But President al-Bashir is defiant.

(Sound of Omar Al-Bashir addressing rally)

OMAR AL-BASHIR (translated): We will not submit to the International Criminal Court or surrender to
them and we will not hand over any Sudanese citizen to them.

MEREDITH GRIFFITHS: The President told the crowd that Western countries are the real criminals
because they sent their armies to colonise the world.

OMAR AL-BASHIR (translated): They are liars and hypocrites. That is why today from my position in
El-Fasher, I say to them, the International Criminal Court prosecutor and its members and all those
who support it are beneath my shoes!

MEREDITH GRIFFITHS: But Melissa McCullough from the Darfur Australia Network says sources in Sudan
have told her organisation this morning that the rally is no indication of local support for the
Sudanese President.

MELISSA MCCULLOUGH: He said the protestors were largely comprised of the security personnel wearing
civilian clothing and that government officials have shutdown local schools and are now using force
and the threat of violence to demand that the youth participate in these rallies.

MEREDITH GRIFFITHS: Omar al-Bashir went on to tell the crowd that he would throw more aid workers,
peacekeepers and diplomats out of the country if they didn't obey Sudanese law.

(Sound of Omar Al-Bashir addressing rally)

OMAR AL-BASHIR (translated): Anyone residing with us here first should respect himself, and should
not be messing around with things here or there. He should not intervene in things that do not
concern him. He should not do anything that affects national security and safety.

MEREDITH GRIFFITHS: After the warrant for his arrest was issued last week, Sudan expelled 13 of the
largest aid agencies from Darfur.

OMAR AL-BASHIR (translated): We expelled duplicitous agencies and spies and all those who
threatened the national security of our country.

MEREDITH GRIFFITHS: But Melissa McCullough from the Darfur Australia Network says aid agencies are
careful to stay politically neutral and focus on delivering aid.

MEREDITH GRIFFITHS: He was accusing Oxfam straightaway of passing on information to the ICC and
that's how he justified the first expulsion of the aid group. I think that obviously he's making
links between aid organisations and the ICC's process and he's fabricating these links for the
purpose of continuing his agenda which is cutting off lifeline aid to the most vulnerable and it's
giving him sort of unfettered access into Darfur.

MEREDITH GRIFFITHS: The United Nations says the expulsion of the 13 agencies last week has put more
than a million lives at risk.

Ann Veneman is the executive director of the United Nations Children's Fund.

ANN VENEMAN: There are millions of people in Darfur who are dependent upon humanitarian assistance.
The real concern is, is how to fill a gap when so many of the organisations have had their licenses

MEREDITH GRIFFITHS: On the weekend, the UN Security Council met to discuss a statement calling on
Sudan to let the aid agencies back in, but diplomats say that China objected.

A delegation from the African Union and the Arab League is expected to ask the Security Council to
suspend the war crimes case against Sudan's President.

ELEANOR HALL: That report from Meredith Griffiths.