Friday, January 30, 2009

AU against indicting Sudan's Bashir - AU wants Mbeki to head Darfur panel - Russia proposes Darfur conference in Moscow - Kiir starts ICC committee

The African Union has asked former South African leader Thabo Mbeki to head a panel on how to reconcile the need for accountability in Darfur with opposition to calls for Sudan's president to be prosecuted.

Jean Ping, the chairman of the AU Commission, made the announcement on Thursday at a meeting of the continent's foreign ministers ahead of a February 1-3 AU summit in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia.

African Union against indicting Sudan's Bashir
From LA Times (Associated Press, Addis Ababa) 31 January 2009 - excerpt:
The African Union urged the International Criminal Court on Friday to suspend its indictment of Sudan's president on genocide charges, saying it could jeopardize any peace process in Darfur.

The head of the AU Peace and Security Council said Friday that members unanimously supported delaying the indictment process for a year so that officials could negotiate peace in the western Sudanese region. "There is a solidarity shown toward the president of Sudan, unanimously," Ramtane Lamamra of Algeria said.
African Union wants Mbeki to head Darfur panel
From Reuters (Addis Ababa) by Daniel Wallis 29 January 2009 - excerpt:
The African Union has asked former South African leader Thabo Mbeki to head a panel on how to reconcile the need for accountability in Darfur with opposition to calls for Sudan's president to be prosecuted.

Jean Ping, the chairman of the AU Commission, made the announcement on Thursday at a meeting of the continent's foreign ministers ahead of a February 1-3 AU summit in Ethiopia.

"I have written to President Mbeki to ask him to chair a high level panel to submit recommendations on how best to reconcile the fight against impunity (in Darfur) while also dealing with reconciliation and forgiveness," Ping said.

Ping gave no other details about his plan for Mbeki.

Meanwhile, the United Nations and African Union mission in Darfur (UNAMID) is aiming to deploy 80 percent of its joint peacekeeping force there by March and the rest by June.

UNAMID took over from a smaller AU mission last year -- but is well short of its promised strength of 26,000 troops.

Tanzania's Bernard Membe, who heads the Executive Council of AU foreign ministers, said the success of the mission depended on getting maximum cooperation from Bashir's government.

The AU has called for any indictment to be suspended.

"Most of us are members of the ICC, and much as most of us don't condone atrocities, the solution that we are seeking in Darfur must seek the cooperation of the government," he said.

"The cooperation of the government cannot come if we'll be deploying our troops at the same time as President Bashir is indicted. It will bring a contradiction and the peace process will be brought to a halt."
AU Commission top official supports negotiated peace in Darfur
From Angola Press (Addis Ababa) 30 January 2009:
The African Union (AU) will press for a negotiated peace settlement in the troubled Darfur region in western Sudan, rather than back the warrants of arrest slapped on the Sudanese President Hassan el-Bashir and others accused by the International Criminal Court (ICC), the AU Commission (AUC) Deputy Chairperson, Mr Erastus Mwencha, said in an exclusive interview with PANA here Friday.

Mwencha, however, reiterated that any form of impunity would be firmly tackled by the continental body, irrespective of the circumstances.

The ICC wants Bashir, who was scheduled to arrive in the Ethiopian capital on Friday for the 12th AU summit, to face criminal charges for crimes against humanity, genocide and gross human rights violations.

The AUC and the Arab League, in what is called the Qatar Initiative, wants the warrants of arrest to be withdrawn and replaced with a panel of eminent African persons, chaired by former South African President Thabo Mbeki.

The two organisations are invoking Article 16 of the Rome Statute that created the ICC, which provides for staying of the warrants of arrest when and where circumstances necessitate.
Russia calls for an international conference on Darfur
From Sudan Tribune article dated 29 January 2009 (KHARTOUM) - excerpt:
A visiting Russian official announced today that his government is proposing an international conference on Darfur to be held in Moscow later this year.

“We think such a summit would be a good mechanism to those who want to participate in the reviewing the positive developments in Darfur” Margelov was quoted by the Sudan official news agency (SUNA) as saying.

The Russian official said that his country is “actively engaged on Sudan issues and wants to play an active role in UN Security Council (UNSC), Africa and in world affairs”.

Margelov was appointed in this newly created position by Russian President Dmitry Medvedev last December in what appeared to be growing interest in the East African country.

Russian envoy to Sudan Mikhail Margelov

Photo: Russian envoy to Sudan Mikhail Margelov (L) speaks to Sudanese president Omer Hassan Al-Bashir January 29, 2009
The Russian special envoy to Sudan Mikhail Margelov told reporters following his meeting with president Omer Hassan Al-Bashir that the conference would include experts and political figures as well as all interested parties.

The envoy has made visits to Darfur and the Southern capital of Juba.

Margelov said he obtained “valuable” information that will help him make an evaluation and will convey to the Russian leadership upon his return.

He declined to state what position Russia will take on the issue of the highly expected arrest warrant to be issued by International Criminal Court (ICC) against Al-Bashir.

However he said that stance would take shape after holding consultations next month with the United States and Western Europe.

Russia has voted in favor of resolution 1593 referring the Darfur crisis to the ICC. However it hinted that it is willing to support a deferral under Article 16 of the ICC Statute but did not table a resolution.
South Sudan’s Kiir constitutes ICC Preparedness Committee
From Sudan Tribune by James Gatdet Dak 31 January 2009 (JUBA) - excerpt:
President of the semi-autonomous Government of Southern Sudan (GoSS), General Salva Kiir Mayardit, has announced his Government’s formation of a Ministerial Committee to deal with the expected decision by the International Criminal Court (ICC) to issue arrest warrants on the President of the Republic, Omer Hassan el-Bashir.

About 7-member ministerial committee to be chaired by the Minister of Cabinet Affairs, Dr. Luka Tombekana Monoja, is charged with the responsibility to workout preparedness plans for the semi-autonomous Government should the ICC issue the arrest warrant.

The Committee shall be reporting to the GoSS President “regularly”.

In the Council of Ministers meeting on Friday, President Kiir also briefed the Council on his recent visit to Washington, DC, where he met with a number of senior American officials including former President, George W. Bush at the White House.

Kiir also met with the UN Secretary General, Ban Ki-Moon and President of the World Bank, Robert Zoelleck, among other senior officials.

According to the Minister of Information and Broadcasting and official Spokesperson of the Government, Gabriel Changson Chang, the visit which took place between 5th – 7th January this year came as an invitation from President Bush to celebrate with President Kiir on the 5th January, in the White House, the 4th Anniversary of the signing of the Comprehensive Peace Agreement (CPA).

Chang added that the visit was also to extend GoSS profound appreciation for the role played by the former US President and his administration in the conclusion of CPA and its implementation.

The visit gave President Kiir and his team the opportunity to update President Bush and his administration about the status of the CPA implementation and to ensure the continuity of the US commitment to CPA implementation in their handing over report to the new administration.

Kiir told the meeting that Bush’s administration identified Government of Southern Sudan as its strategic ally in Sudan and the region and reassured that such policy will continue even with the new administration.

He said the American government is committed to making Southern Sudan stronger politically, economically and militarily.

The Washington respective meetings discussed a number of issues within the context of implementation of the CPA, Darfur peace process and the ICC’s indictment on President el-Bashir.

The Council of Ministers commended the outcome of President Kiir’s visit to Washington DC.

Kiir said his team was not able to meet with any member of the new President Barrack Obama’s team “as they decided not to have any official meeting till they assumed their offices.”

The new administration’s officials however indicated that they would be ready to meet with GoSS officials after the inauguration of President Obama.
Related reports

Nov. 29, 2008 - Sudan Watch: Launch of a joint Arab-African peace initiative for Darfur: Qatari Peace Bid: UN, EU, AU, AL, UK, US & France support the joint Arab-African peace initiative for Darfur led by Qatar & Sudan People's Forum (SPF) - Qatar have proposed to host peace talks to end the five year war in the western Sudanese region of Darfur.

Jan. 26, 2009 - Sudan Watch: ICC's case against Sudan's President Omar Hassan Al-Bashir is a mess riddled with flaws - UNSC must invoke Article 16

Jan. 19, 2009 - Sudan Watch: Attn: Sudanese President Omar Al-Bashir & First Vice-President Salva Kiir Mayardit, A Scientifically Verified Option to Bring Lasting Peace to Sudan

Jan. 16, 2009 - Sudan Watch: South Sudan's leader Salva Kiir warns of return to civil war

-The Comprehensive Peace Agreement (CPA)
- The Darfur Peace Agreement (DPA)
- The Eastern Sudan Peace Agreement (ESPA)

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