Bashir Urges Darfur’s Displaced to Go Home

Posted February 8th, 2012 at 10:30 am (UTC-5)
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Sudanese President Omar al-Bashir says the nearly two million people displaced by the Darfur conflict should return to their homes.

Speaking Wednesday in the North Darfur capital of El-Fashir, Mr. Bashir said his government wants all the people living in displaced-person camps to go back to their villages. He promised to help them with resettlement.

The Bashir government has been fighting rebels in Sudan's western Darfur region since 2003. The United Nations estimated last month that 1.9 million people remain displaced by the conflict.

The International Criminal Court has indicted Mr. Bashir for alleged war crimes and genocide in Darfur. The court accuses him of masterminding a campaign of murder, rape, and other atrocities against civilians in the region.

The president has denied the charges and does not recognize the court's authority.

Mr. Bashir spoke at a ceremony to inaugurate the new Darfur Regional Authority, a body meant to implement a peace deal signed last year between the government and some smaller rebel groups.

The Sudanese president urged other rebel groups to join a regional peace process.

He also announced an amnesty for members of the Liberation and Justice Movement, a breakaway faction of the region's main rebel group, the Justice and Equality Movement.