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Amnesty International urges African Heads of State to refuse Sudan bid for AU presidency
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Jan 31, 2008 - 8:01:36 AM

For immediate release: Thursday, 31 January 2008

Amnesty International urges African Heads of State to refuse Sudan bid for AU presidency

Amnesty International today urged African Heads of State meeting in Addis Ababa for the African Union (AU) Assembly to address the critical human rights challenges confronting Africa, as human rights violations in Kenya and Sudan continue unabated.

“As the Heads of State gather, they must keep at the forefront of their minds the massive human rights problems ordinary Africans are facing -- and do whatever they can to tackle these problems and work towards finding solutions,” said Kolawole Olaniyan, Amnesty International’s Legal Advisor on Africa.

The organization issued a short memorandum of recommended actions to the AU, focused in particular on the ongoing human rights violations in Sudan and Kenya.

Amnesty International also called on the AU Assembly to reject Sudan’s bid to become president of the AU.

“It is very worrying that Sudan is again interested in becoming chair of the AU when it is continuing to commit gross human rights violations in Darfur – and is failing to cooperate fully with UNAMID [the UN-AU hybrid peacekeeping force in Darfur],” said Olaniyan.

“We urge the AU not to grant Sudan its chairmanship. This would not only be a conflict of interest – given that Sudan is a party to a conflict that the AU is playing a critical role in resolving – but also a slap in the face for the hundreds of thousands of victims of this protracted and violent human rights crisis.”

Sudan failed in its bids for the AU Presidency in 2006 and 2007 following public backlash against the government’s continuing targeting of civilians and blocking of peacekeeping operations necessary to protect civilians.

“If given the presidency of the AU, Sudan would be in a position to effectively negotiate with itself over the conflict in Darfur – clearly a ridiculous and untenable situation,” said Olaniyan.

“The AU Assembly must take this opportunity to publicly condemn the Sudanese government’s obstruction of UNAMID’s work and press them to cooperate fully with UNAMID immediately.”

Amnesty International also called on the Assembly to urgently establish an AU Commission of Inquiry into unlawful killings and other grave human rights abuses in Kenya, and insist that those found responsible are brought to justice in line with international standards for fair trial.

The organization has today been informed of credible death threats being made against prominent human rights defenders and activists in Kenya and called on the Kenyan government to ensure their safety and protection.

“African heads of state must press the Kenyan government and political leaders to take all lawful measures to ensure an immediate halt to the violence and publicly declare their commitment to respecting and protecting the human rights of all Kenyan citizens,” said Olaniyan.

To see a full copy of Amnesty International’s recommendations to the AU Assembly, please click here.

To see Amnesty International’s news flash, Kenya: Prominent human rights defenders threatened with death as “traitors” to their ethnicity, please click here.


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