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08.03.2009 Africa

Bashir pledges to push forward peace process


Sudanese President Omar al-Bashir Saturday told a rally that the country does not allow any breach of the peace process and would never return to war, the state television reported.

"We are a family no matter where you are from, north or south," said Bashir, who is wearing colourful folk costume and a feather coronal of the south.

The rally, attended by thousands of representatives of southern Sudanese parties and tribes, was organized by the government in support of the embattled president outside the capital's Friendship Hall.

"We will never allow the breach of the peace process," Bashir said, adding that "we will never return to war."

A large number of people were transported from the country's semi-autonomous south and one truckload of plastic chairs were dispatched ahead of the rally.

"We came here to show our support for al-Bashir," Peter Solid, 14, told Xinhua before the rally.

When asked whether the president can survive the ICC's maneuver, he said "It's not a good question."

Holding banners that read "Never surrender!" and portraits of Bashir, the crowd chanted "Down, down ICC! Down, down Ocampo!" as leaders of the southern parties delivered vehement statements against the court.

"we want to make it clear that you lead a united country, a united people... we reject the criminal court that attempts to humiliate the people and the country of Sudan," a tribe representative said.

A tablet with the text "We are sons of the south Sudan" was presented to Bashir to express the solidarity between the south and north.

Earlier on Wednesday, the Hague-based ICC issued an arrest warrant against Bashir for war crimes and crimes against humanity in the country's restive western region of Darfur between 2003 and 2008.

Sudan has rejected the ICC's jurisdiction since the court's prosecutor Luis Moreno-Ocampo launched a campaign against Bashir in July, saying that it is not a signatory of the Rome Statute.