SUDAN WATCH: AU summit of heads of state denounce ICC

Friday, July 03, 2009

AU summit of heads of state denounce ICC

13th African Union summit

Photo: AU delegations attend the opening session of the 13th African Union summit of heads of state and government in Sirte, Libya, 01 July 2009 (AP/VOA)

After bitter wrangling, Africa's leaders agreed Friday to denounce the International Criminal Court and refuse to extradite Sudan's President Omar al-Bashir, who has been indicted for crimes against humanity in Darfur.

The decision at the African Union summit says AU members "shall not cooperate" with the court in The Hague "in the arrest and transfer of the president of Sudan to the ICC."

Sudan welcomed the move, and other Africans said it was a signal to the West that it shouldn't impose its ways on Africa. A human rights group said the decision was a gift to a dictator.

The 13th AU summit of heads of state, which concluded Friday in Sirte, Libya, also "expresses its preoccupation about the behavior of the ICC prosecutor" Luis Moreno Ocampo, whom African officials describe as too hard on al-Bashir.

Full story from AP (SIRTE, Libya) by Alfred de Montesquiou, Friday July 03, 2009: African leaders denounce international court
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From AFP (SIRTE, Libya) Friday July 03, 2009 - excerpt:   
AU to shelter Beshir from war crimes warrant: delegates
The African Union decided Friday not to cooperate with a war crimes warrant against Sudan President Omar al-Beshir and again appealed to the United Nations to delay the case.

"The conference decided not to cooperate in that field," the top AU official Jean Ping told reporters.
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From Voice of America News (Addis Ababa) Friday July 03, 2009 - excerpt:
AU Summit Compromise Leaves Continental Authority in Limbo
Africa's leaders meeting in Libya have taken a step toward creation of a continental authority that would have enhanced powers to deal with matters of mutual interest. But a compromise reached after days of heated debate is short on details.

After a marathon negotiating session that ended at four o'clock Friday morning, Benin's Foreign Minister Jean-Marie Ehouzou said, "The states are ready to give up a little part of their sovereignty for the benefit of the [union].
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From BBC News Friday July 03, 2009 23:28 UK - excerpt:
African Union in rift with court 
The African Union says it will halt co-operation with the International Criminal Court over its decision to charge Sudan's leader with war crimes.

President Omar al-Bashir was indicted over alleged atrocities in the Darfur region in March.

But delegates to an AU meeting in Libya agreed a resolution saying they would not co-operate in his arrest.

Analysts say the move means the Sudanese leader can travel across the continent without fear of arrest. [...]

In a statement, the AU pointed out that its request to the ICC to defer Mr Bashir's indictment had been ignored.

It went on: "The AU member states shall not co-operate... relating to immunities for the arrest and surrender of Sudanese President Omar al-Bashir to the ICC."

The statement was backed by many African leaders who, analysts say, see the ICC as an attempt by the West to interfere in their affairs.

Sudanese Minister of State for Foreign Affairs Alsamani al-Wasila welcomed the move, describing the resolution as "very clear".

But, says BBC Africa analyst Martin Plaut, despite the Sudanese satisfaction a number of countries, including Chad and Benin, are reported to have expressed disquiet about the text.

It is also limited in scope, our analyst adds.

It does not ask the 30 African states that have signed up to the ICC to end their relationship with it.

Indeed, on the day this resolution was being passed, Kenya agreed explicitly to continue co-operating with the ICC, to prosecute those suspected of taking part in the violence that followed the December 2007 election.

The African Union decision is a blow to the court, but by no means a fatal one, our analyst says.

In a separate development, two female aid workers have been kidnapped in Darfur, reports say.

The pair - from Uganda and Ireland - were both working for the Irish charity Goal. They were seized from their compound in Kutum in northern Darfur by unidentified men, officials said.
It is the third time foreign aid workers have been kidnapped in Darfur since March.
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From Reuters via Irish Times Saturday July 04, 2009:
African Union will not back Bashir charge
SIRTE, Libya – African Union heads of state voted yesterday not to co-operate with the International Criminal Court over its indictment of Sudanese president Omar Hassan al-Bashir.

“decides that in view of the fact that a request of the African Union has never been acted upon, the AU member states shall not co-operate persuant to the provisions of Article 98 of the Rome statute of the ICC relating to immunities for the arrest and surrender of Sudanese president Omar al-Bashir to the ICC,” a text of the resolution said. –(Reuters)



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