The AU Tag of War over the ICC Charges against President Al-Bashir
By: Abdellatif Abdelrahman.
The UN Security Council Session specially held for Darfur in March 2005, endorsed the resolution 1593 referring Darfur case to the International Criminal Court in Hague. In That session, the African countries in Security Council voted; Benin and Tanzania voted in favor while Algeria abstained. So accordingly; the African countries endorsed the ICC referral of Darfur case to the ICC without any reservations. If the Africans fear the ICC why should they endorsed the resolution in the first place? Or are they not aware that the ICC is different kind of court unlike African hyena’s courts in which sheep can not win? Therefore; today, it’s funny enough to see AU leaders decry as the grip started tightening upon the fugitive President Al-Bashir to face justice. The African leaders not only blenching from their positions, but shamelessly going steps further to unjustly attack the ICC and its Chief Prosecutor Luis Moreno Ocampo for merely doing his job. Not only that but the AU Chairperson Jean Ping making fool out of himself by spearing the pro-impunity lobbyists group within the AU Organization . Furthermore; Ping acts as if he is an Ambassador for the National Congress Party to the AU, rather than being a chairman of the AU Commission.
On Saturday 24 July 2010, Jean Ping a long time fierce critic and the proposer of the so-called AU commission of Inquiry (AUCOI) which failed to see light; and was also aimed to counter the ICC move against Al-Bashir through drawing the rag under the feet of the UN Commission of Inquiry (UNCOI) which was established in 2008 as a legal team to investigate crimes committed in Darfur. In a press conference the Chairperson of the AU Commission Ping launched an attack on the ICC Prosecutor Moreno Ocampo, saying that he is insensitive to the impact of his case against the Sudanese President Omer Al-Bashir on the peace process. "We are not against the ICC; he added. There are double standards," The AU official said "There seems to be some bullying against Africa" Ping added.
What a paradoxical language the chairperson of AU commission is using? There is no way that Jean Ping can hide his blatant lining with Khartoum and his ill-intentions towards the genocide victims of Darfur. Jean has to know that; its Darfurian victims who should be the one to determine how they want justice, and not the biased AU. So my humble advice to Jean Ping is to go and study Law in order to prepare himself to defend his criminal friend Al-Bashir on the day genocide witnesses are presenting their testimonies before the ICC Judges; instead of raising dust in the media.
Jean Ping knows full well that, there is nothing called “bulling and double standards” in the ICC procedures. However; the African countries such as Uganda, Democratic Republic of Congo, Central Africa Republic and Kenya; voluntarily referred their cases to the ICC. Nothing at all is forced by the West or by the ICC and its Chief Prosecutor Moreno Ocampo upon the Africans. But it’s simply; that we in Africa fell short to bring justice to our own people. It’s also because of the shameful attitudes of African top officials like Jean Ping that made Darfurian to have little trust or no trust at all to let the AU have upper hand in resolving their crisis since they only seeking to let genocide criminals go unpunished and accordingly perpetuate injustices on genocide victims. Hence; I totally agree with recent report released last may by Amnesty International on Darfur that said “The AU should lead by example but in certain situations it has become part of the Problem”.
However, the shifting of positions by some African leaders on support of the ICC, aptly remind me with a motto Sudan’s National Congress Party is using since it hijacked power in a pre-dawn coup in June,1989 they say “one who does not possess his food, does not possess his decision”. To quote few of so many rampant hypocrisy among so many African leaders, for example the Senegalese President Abdoulaye Wade in, 2008 made it clear that his government has an obligation under the Rome Statue and would be unable to receive Al-Bashir on its territory if an arrest warrant is issued against Al- Bashir , despite his friendly relation with him. Furthermore, it’s non other than President Wade at the opening Summit of the community of Sahel-Saharan States (CEN-SAD) in Chad last week, calling the African leaders for the annulment of the resolutions of the ICC. He said “President Al-Bashir is a sitting head of state who had been elected by the Sudanese people and therefore, he represents the Sudanese masses that have immunity which deserve to be considered always”.
The problem of African leaders is that they do not even give themselves time to read the treaties and the agreements they sign; thus they always make uninformed statements out of ignorance. The type Jean Ping are very old fashion leader who think that all what comes out of their mouths is truth and we ignorant African masses will believe it. They fell short to believe that African normal people are progressively learning fast, where their minds do not accept the thinking of post colonial leaders. If President Wade read the Rome Statue he will comprehend that, the Rome Statue provides in article 27, paragraph 2, that “immunities or special procedural rules which may attach to the official capacity of a person, whether under national or international law, shall not bar the court from exercising its jurisdiction over such person”. Therefore; no African leader from today should claim that he or Al-Bashir has immunity before the ICC. Moreover, President Abdoulaye Wade knows better than any African Leader else that the forty plus election result, with which President Al-Bashir declared himself a winner in the most controversial election ever took place in the history of Sudan; had being secure after giving the Janjaweed militias brought from Senegal and Nagar false citizenship documents, in order to vote for Al-Bashir. So I am leaving the issue that President Al-Bashir represents the true will of the Sudanese people for President Wade to answer it.
It’s also true, to believe that poverty was to blame, for driving African leaders to easily change loyalties. As today some African nations are saddled with the dilemma of seeking to honor their International obligation pertaining to the ICC and pressure from AU rich Countries such as Libya that had been constantly using its financial prowess and leverage to influence decisions within the AU. The Libyan Leader Muammar Al-Gaddafi who accused the ICC of practicing international terrorism had pledged to put 90 $ billion at the disposal of AU toward the creation of his United States of Africa initiative. It’s true that the king of kings of Africa Muammar was paranoid by the existence of foreign troops in Darfur; that is why he said in the opening remarks at the peace talks in Sirte. Gaddafi said that the best thing that foreign peacemakers and peacekeeping troops could do for Darfur was stay out of it.
It’s worth bringing to minds that, the recent African Union (AU) delegates’ failure at the ongoing Uganda summit to pass the non-cooperation clause with the ICC in the arrest and surrender of President Al-Bashir, represents Gaddafi’s third attempt to pass his long-waited dream against the ICC. First, the non-cooperation resolution failed last year in Sirte Summit. Second, also last year in June 2009, in the Ethiopian Capital Addis Ababa where the ICC African signatories held a conference to discuss de-ratification of the Rome Statue amid intense pressure from Libya. The plan drastically failed after Libya a long with other non-signatories were barred from attending the meetings. Lastly; he also failed in the current AU Kampala Summit. I believe that Gaddafi should not fear the ICC unless he has crimes to hide. Thanks to South Africa, Ghana and Botswana who strived hard to remove the non-cooperation clauses from the draft resolution adopted by the AU when the pressure was put forward by delegations of these countries in Uganda summit, although; there are still some prejudiced articles in the amended resolution which calls for freezing of the arrest warrant against Al-Bashir; which before went unanswered by the UN Security Council. The people of Darfur will not forget the efforts exerted by the above mentioned. In fact these countries have really represented their countries and their people in best ways.
However; its worth to mention that whenever Sudan’s Government got the backing and blessing of some African leaders in any forum, the Darfurian in their death camps pays immediately the dire price of Khartoum’s presumed political victory. When the fugitive President Al-Bashir received the regional backing on Thursday’s 22 July 2010 in Chad; the support and solidarity Sudan Government got, was translated on the ground in Darfur by attacking Kalma IDP camp on 23th of July 2010, where two innocent civilians were injured and detained, as part of Khartoum’s plan to dismantle the IDP camps through adopting the resolutions of the postponed Doha talks, which ratified the forceful removal of the IDP camps. A confidential source from Kalma camp disclosed for me before I write this article that Khartoum government distributed machine guns to it’s agents within the camp, to create chaotic situation inside the camp, in order to accomplish their devilish dismantling process and complete the last part of the genocide. Nevertheless UNIMAD in its daily media briefing issued on 28 of July 2010 was quick to portray those government agents who created havoc in the camp as Abdul Wahid’s loyalists. In fact UNIMAD wittingly or unwitting is implementing Khartoum’s regime policy of “give the victims bad name and punish them”. Therefore I call upon UNIMAD to maintain total impartiality in reporting the news.
Meanwhile, The Youth and Women sector of Darfur IDPs and refugees on 23th of July 2010 issued an a appeal to the International Community published on Sudan tribune urging the UN and other international bodies to break the humanitarian blockage imposed on them by Khartoum, as well as to rescue them from the continues government attacks as the UNAMID forces failed on it’s mission to protect.
It’s absolutely clear that, the current mandate of the AU forces in Darfur is too weak to make any difference on the ground or even to protect themselves. So I add my voice to the voices of the IDPs and refugees in their call to the International Community to reconsider the mandate of the UNAMID forces or be substituted by forces capable of protecting the civilians and also protect themselves from Khartoum retaliation on ICC decisions by punishing the IDPs and refugees through expelling aid- workers. Moreover; I strongly urge the International Community to pressurize Khartoum to meet its obligations under the passed UNSC resolutions. Finally I urge the African leaders to fully support the ICC in its move against Al-Bashir, because justice and accountability are critical components of comprehensive and lasting solution to the crisis in Darfur.
The writer is based in Kampala, Uganda and can be reached at [email protected]