The Sudanese president, Omar al-Bashir, has hailed the international criminal court’s suspension of its investigations into alleged war crimes in Darfur, accusing it of trying to “humiliate and subjugate” his country.

The ICC charged Omar al-Bashir in 2009 for crimes in the region dating back to 2003, but he refused to recognise the authority of the court in The Hague.

The ICC’s prosecutor Fatou Bensouda said on Friday she was halting investigations to “shift resources to other urgent cases”, and criticised the UN security council for failing to push for Bashir’s arrest.

Bashir said in a speech in Khartoum that the decision came about “because of the Sudanese people’s refusal to be humiliated and to kneel down”, state news agency SUNA reported.

He called the ICC one of the “tools aimed to humiliate and subjugate” Sudan, SUNA said.

Bensouda’s decision to halt the Darfur investigations comes amid rising difficulties for the ICC, which dropped charges of crimes against humanity against the Kenyan president, Uhuru Kenyatta, last week.

The Ugandan president, Yoweri Museveni, on Friday called on African countries to withdraw from the ICC, saying the court had become a “tool to target” the continent.

Darfur erupted into conflict in 2003 when ethnic insurgents rebelled against the Arab-dominated government in Khartoum, complaining they were being marginalised.

The UN says the unrest in Darfur has killed 300,000 people and displaced 2 million, while the government puts the death toll at around 10,000.

The UN security council remains deeply divided over the Darfur crisis, with China a key ally of the Khartoum regime.

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ZIMENE MUMAKONDA

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