Al-Bashir with Rupiah Banda
Zambia’s compliance to international law will be under test next week as Sudan’s President Omar al-Bashir, wanted by the International Criminal Court (ICC) for genocide committed in Darfur, is expected to attend a regional summit slated for December 15, in Lusaka.
Human Rights groups across the world have maintained that Zambia being a member of the ICC is legally obliged to execute the arrest warrant against Al-Bashir upon setting his foot on the territory, but there remains a lot of uncertainties on whether President Rupiah Banda will necessitate this.
President Banda who is chairperson of the International Conference of the Great Lakes Region (ICGLR) has reiterated that his invitation to the indicted Sudan leader was purely on grounds that the country is part of the region.
Heavily criticised for his foreign relations including diplomatic ties with the donor community, President Banda has also downplayed mounting media pressure and tension from his opposition.
On Tuesday President Banda told the national broadcaster ZNBC through his press aide that he would not respond to both local and International media queries on whether he will arrest and handover Al-Bashir to the ICC because his country had not yet confirmed his participation.
According to the Sudan New Agency President Banda’s labor deputy minister Simon Kachimba met with the beleaguered Sudan President on Monday last week were an official invitation was extended to him to which he responded in the affirmative.
The question that remains unanswered is why President Banda specifically invited Al-Bashir’s to the Lusaka Summit when he would simply be comfortable with just diplomatic representation from that country.
Why didn’t President Banda, aware of the ICC demands, see it prudent to ask Al-Bashir in the invite to delegate an official to the Summit?
Suppose Al-Bashir showed up next week for the ICGLR, would President Banda betray the man he personally invited and order for his arrest? And if that is possible why has he failed to categorically state whether he would adhere to the ICC obligation?
Opposition political players locally have expressed doubt about Rupiah’s commitment to ensure Al-Bashir’s arrest alleging that he fell in the same category as his track record on human rights was not impressive.
Other critics of his regime stress the need for observance of international law adding that failure to comply with demands of the International Criminal Court would bring shame upon the country.
“What is expected of this government is to ask the Sudanese government to send another official who should represent Al-Bashir otherwise if it’s him, this country is obliged to necessitate his arrest,” said Love Mutesa a former diplomat.
Human rights groups have also asked president Banda to ensure that Al-Bashir is arrested once he steps into the country.
Meanwhile The prosecutor’s office at the ICC will soon decide whether there are new cases that warrant investigations in war-ravaged area of Darfur in Western Sudan.
According to the Sudan Tribune, ICC prosecutor Luis Moreno-Ocampo the ICC will be verifying whether to press more charges on culprits inside the Sudan government including Al-Bashir.
Last week Al-Bashir was forced to cancel appearances at events in Libya and the Central African Republic after both countries asked him to stay away as a result of diplomatic pressure by the European Union (EU).