Global News Journal
Beyond the World news headlines
from Africa News blog:
Sudan's President Omar Hassan al-Bashir was in a jubilant mood when he announced to crowds of supporters that he was declaring a ceasefire in Darfur.
From his body language, you might have thought he had already ended the crisis and achieved his goal of avoiding a possible indictment by the International Criminal Court for alleged war crimes in Darfur.
In the build-up to his speech, supporters surged to the front of the crowd waving sticks and punching the air with their fists to show their support for the army officer who came to power in Sudan in a coup in 1989. There was almost a party atmosphere.
Tanzania's foreign minister Bernard Kamillius Membe was greeted with cheers as he announced that Sudan had shown that African countries could look after their own crises.
French President Nicolas Sarkozy announced that if Sudan changes its behavior and actively supports growing international calls for peace in Darfur, Paris would back suspending any indictments the International Criminal Court (ICC) issues against Sudanese President Omar Hassan al-Bashir.
Sarkozy made clear there would be strings attached. In a speech to the U.N. General Assembly, the French leader said Sudan would have to “radically” alter its policy towards Darfur, where international experts say at least 200,000 people have died since 2003. It would have to remove a cabinet minister indicted for war crimes in Darfur from the Khartoum government and stop delaying the deployment of international peacekeepers.
International prosecutors’ pursuit of Sudan’s President Omar Hassan al-Bashir for alleged genocide has not curtailed his travel schedule. He is in Turkey this week, defiant and saying the move by the International Criminal Court has backfired — his hold on power is stronger than ever.
Sudan’s ambassador to the United Nations Abdalmahmoud Abdalhaleem says Luis Moreno-Ocampo, the chief prosecutor at the International Criminal Court, is “a screwdriver in the workshop of double standards” for seeking to prosecute the president of Sudan, Omar Hassan al-Bashir, for genocide in Darfur. He rejects the term genocide and says the prosecutor is unfairly picking on Africa’s largest country and ignoring war crimes elsewhere.
Moreno-Ocampo accuses Bashir of launching a genocide campaign in 2003 that was intended to wipe out three ethnic groups in Darfur, a desolate and remote region of western Sudan where oil was discovered in 2005. He says the Sudanese leader used mass murder, rape, deportation and “slow death” by starvation and disease to kill tens of thousands in Darfur. Moreno-Ocampo wants the ICC judges to issue an international arrest warrant for Bashir.
First on Zimbabwe, now on Darfur, Western countries have lost out at the U.N. Security Council to African states backed by China and Russia.
A Western attempt to get sanctions imposed on Zimbabwean President Robert Mugabe’s government flopped on July 11. Three weeks later, when it came to renewing the mandate of peacekeepers in Darfur, Western countries bowed to demands to include wording that made clear the council would be ready to freeze any International Criminal Court indictment of President Omar Hassan al-Bashir for genocide. The United States abstained, but that made no difference to the vote.
The extradition of former Bosnian Serb
leader Radovan Karadzic on Wednesday to
face genocide charges in The Hague sends
a signal that the international community
means business in bringing fugitives to
Reinforcing the same message,
Serge Brammertz, chief prosecutor
of the International Criminal Tribunal
for the former Yugoslavia, called again
for the arrest of Bosnian Serb wartime
commander Ratko Mladic. Like Karadzic,
Mladic is accused of genocide over the
43-month siege of Sarajevo and the 1995
massacre of some 8,000 Muslims at
On Friday I wrote that the International Criminal Court’s chief prosecutor was readying a genocide charge and arrest warrant for Sudan’s President Omar Hassan al-Bashir. It came to pass today. A defiant Khartoum has said it will not bend to the court and has warned of an eruption of violence; the opposition too has said the warrant could threaten peace. Is this a case of justice versus peace and do the two have to be irreconcilable?
Here’s Friday’s blog:
Prosecutors at the International Criminal Court are readying arrest warrants for senior Sudanese officials, possibly even President Omar Hassan al-Bashir, sources at The Hague court have told Reuters. The Washington Post said it understood Bashir would face charges of genocide and crimes against humanity.