Merowe Dam – the source of ICC indictment of President Omar Al Bashir

By Manzie Vincent Doh

Sudanese people celebrate the Merowe Dam Omar Al Bashiir :President of Sudan

BEIJING—(September 20—M4Relay) — On March 4,2009, the International Criminal Court (ICC) issued a warrant for the arrest of Sudanese President Omar al-Bashir, accusing him of committing war crimes and crimes against humanity in the Darfur region. The counts against the president later included charges against genocide. Bashir strongly rejected the warrant, calling the move a step toward colonizing his country during a rally where thousands gathered to show their support for the president.

The people of Sudan have been joined by the African Union (AU), which has decided to back Bashir. The AU has called on the United Nations to suspend the warrant of arrest.

Recent pressures from the ICC and other western countries including the United States of America were mounted on Kenya and Chad for the arrest of Sudanese president during his visits to these countries where he attended high level meetings and held diplomatic discussions with the leaders of Chad and Kenya respectively.

Why Bashir’s head is wanted

At the center of the ICC charges against president Omar Al Bashir is the construction of Merowe Dam. But this fact is usually submerged and only “dissident” writers in the language of the West will have moral obligation to bring this fact to limelight. The dam is the longest of its kind on the world’s famous Nile River in Sudan’s Northern Province, some 450 km north of the capital city Khartoum. With a length of 9.7 km and a maximum height of 67 meters, the Merowe Dam is a multipurpose project designed for power supply and agricultural irrigation. It has a 1.24-billion-cubic-meter reservoir that could help more than 4 million local residents living along the Nile. Its dimensions make it the largest contemporary hydropower project in Africa. The dam was built by a joint venture formed by China Water Resources and Hydropower and China International Water and Electric Corp.

The total project cost is reported to be 1.2 billion Euros. The project receives funding from China Import Export Bank to the tune of EURO 240 million; the Arab Fund for Economic and Social Development contributes approximately EURO 130 million; the Saudi Fund for Development helps with about EUR 130 million; Saudi Fund for Development – approximately EUR 130 million; Oman Fund for Development gives close to EUR 130 million and Abu Dhabi Fund for Development hands in about EUR 85 million

The remaining cost – approximately EUR 400 million is expected to be covered by the Sudanese government.

The power from the dam will create a lot of work opportunities and according to residents of Sudan, the dam will make life more convenient and greatly reduce blackouts especially as before the coming of the dam, the people relied on noisy-diesel-fueled generators for power supply. The fruit trees and vegetable planted along the countryside and towns will get the badly-needed irrigation.

The 9.7-km dam is the longest one in the world with a total capacity of 1.25 million kilowatt, twice as much as Sudan’s existing power supply. Signing the takeover papers on March 3, 2009, President Bashir danced to the rhythm of a 30-minute folk song. The president’s trademark style was applauded by a crowd, who raised a forest of arms and chanted religious slogans.

Some 4 million Sudanese people, or more than one-tenth of the total population, will benefit from the dam’s irrigation system and power supply.

It is an open fact, but yet an isolated truth that the arrest warrant for Sudan’s President Omar al Bashir was ignited on the one hand by the construction of the Merowe dam. The facts are clear. China – an emerging super power (to the displeasure of the West), is the main funding body of the multipurpose dam.

The other major donors of the project are from Arab countries such as Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates. This definitely makes the West to quake and shake in fear, knowing that the oil rich Sudan will elude them. President Al Bashir has been very comfortable with Sino-Sudanese relations, and this does not make the West happy. That the International Criminal Court is dancing to the tunes of several influential western countries like the US, and Britain, is an open secret. As a result, where the interests of these nations are at stake, unorthodox measures will be implemented to secure such interests.

But unfortunately for the ICC and its partners, the rest of Africa is not ready to abide by the arrest warrants which calls on African States to arrest Al Bashir should he pay a visit to the respective countries. Chad and Kenya just recently ignored calls from the ICC and the United States to arrest President Bashir while on a visit to those countries.

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