Jul. 16 (GIN) – Sudanese President Omar Al Bashir’s recent trip to Nigeria made one thing perfectly clear. He would enjoy his trip in comfort, unperturbed by an arrest warrant by a Europe-based court that some believe targets Africans but overlooks equally atrocious crimes by the west.
In Abuja for a two-day summit of the African Union on the subject of HIV/AIDS, al Bashir dined with Ethiopia’s Prime Minister Hailemariam Desalegn, African Union chair, and posed for a photo op with Nigerian president Goodluck Jonathan.
Nigeria earlier rebuffed a request by the International Criminal Court (ICC) to surrender al Bashir. It cited the African Union’s position of noncooperation with the ICC for the decision.
The AU “broke” with ICC after the tribunal, headquartered in the Netherlands, “undermined ongoing efforts aimed at facilitating the early resolution of the conflict in Darfur.”
Further, noted the AU, the U.N. Security Council equally ignored African Union requests to defer action against al Bashir while “delicate peace processes” were underway.
The ICC, since 2002, tries individuals accused of genocide, crimes against humanity and war crimes. It has publicly indicted 30 people – all African – of which proceedings against 23 are ongoing. The list includes Laurent Gbagbo, former president of the Ivory Coast and his wife; Joseph Kony; Uhuru Kenyatta, president of Kenya, and William Ruto, deputy president.
Meanwhile the ICC case against Kenyan president Kenyatta has been postponed until November.
“In part this reflects the complexity of the case,” said a British academic observer. “The prosecution has perhaps taken longer to submit all the evidence they need to submit. And of course the defense needs to have time to go through that and figure out what the defense will be.”
Kenyatta was charged in January 2012 with crimes against humanity, including rape and murder, at the time of the disputed 2007 presidential election in which more than 1,100 people died.
Kenyatta, elected Kenya’s president in March 2013, denies the charges.
There is a perception in the region that the ICC is targeting Africans and trying to undermine Kenya’s democracy, said Adjoa Anyimadu of the British think tank Chatham House. “That view has actually had quite a lot of support within Kenya,” said Anyimadu. w/pix of Nigerian Pres. G. Jonathan (l) and Sudanese Pres. Omar al Bashir (r)