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04.10.2008 Sudan

AU leaders definitely no friends of the bereaved in Darfur

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I am inclined to ask how our leaders get their sense of humanity as I read the news that “ACP Heads of State have called for the suspension of the International Criminal Court's (ICC) action against the Sudanese Head of State to allow for political and diplomatic efforts to address the situation in Darfur.”

I am also inclined to ask for how long, this diplomatic process "to address the situation in Darfur, but I will not. I already know that the “the political and diplomatic efforts” have been going on at the UN and within the corridors of the AU for years while thousands of Darfurians die.

The AU is asking for time, but, unfortunately, time is not on the side of the victims in Darfur and never will. Time so far has only benefited President Bashir; and, perhaps, a few other leaders, in or out of power in Africa. Statements coming out of the ACP meeting in Accra, on the ICC action on Sudan, point this out.

To wit, “In a declaration, the Heads of State (ACP countries) condemned what they described as the use of unilateral coercive measures such as illegal sanction against certain countries with a view to preventing these countries from the exercise of their right to determine their own political, economic and social system.”

So, now it is not Sudan that is fault. It is the ICC. A few of these African leaders will use this defense in anticipation of their own.

I ought to wonder whether the tragedy in Darfur, Sudan is about “the right to determine ...political, economic, and social system.” But I know for sure that this is the old ruse of dictators and brutal regimes resort to when others try to pry into their sordid businesses.

Is the trouble in Sudan about “political, social and economic systems” or the inability of some citizens to sustain life and limb in it?

Clearly, the trouble in Sudan is about genocide. And genocide is a phenomenon that Africa ought to be very familiar with. The continent has experienced too many of it. So for African leaders to mistake what is happening in Darfur for something else, or listen to someone's attempt to bamboozle them with reference to interference in the sovereign process of a nation, should be enough to make these leaders accomplices in the crime. They ought to be indicted together with Bashir and his cohorts for this.

If we should recall, the Sudanese President Omar Hassan Ahmad al-Bashir was indicted mid-July this year by the International Criminal Court (ICC) “for allegedly leading a campaign of murder, rape and mass deportation against the people of Darfur.”

The International Criminal Court was not set up by a “unilateral coercive” force and its deliberations, therefore, cannot be described as “coercive.”

Rather, the ICC is an organization that has the underpinnings of UN consent. Remember, the same UN that did not give consent to the invasion of Iraq! And I am certain that some of the leaders at this ACP conference had their representatives present at the UN when the ICC held its first session there from September 3 - 10 2002. Thirty African states are parties to the ICC charter. Could it be some of these leaders who are now crying foul?

The fact that African leaders are the most vocal against the indictment of Sudan is very troubling. These are the same leaders who couldn't lift a finger to help the peoples of Rwanda, Zimbabwe, Somalia, or at any part of the troubled landscape of Africa.

These leaders sat there at the ACP Accra conference, on Thursday October 2, 2008, and listened to President Bashir address the opening session with statements that Ghana News Agency (GNA) described as “strongly worded.”

Not surprising, Bashir portrayed himself as victim of a vicious Western attempt at regime change.

Since Iraq, brutal regimes have gained another moral dimension. What they do to their own people now pales besides crimes in Gitmo and Abu Ghraib. No one, the AU included, is counting the dead or the dying in Darfur. The stiff bodies we see in the desert of Sudan are just skeletal remains of fallen brushes.

The AU leaders are now asking the United Nations to defer charges of alleged war crimes against Bashir. Apparently, because the charges are unfounded.

And President Bashir agrees. “The unprecedented move by the ICC prosecutor's to have him arrested on war crime charges was undermining the ongoing comprehensive peace process.” And that the move “was also sending wrong signals to Darfur Rebel Movements to move away from the negotiation table," GNA reported.

Bashir further describes the action by the ICC as a politically motivated intent disguised in “a legal and humanitarian cloak."

Luckily, not all African leaders are in agreement with President Bashir, since there was no blanket approval of the request for withdrawal of the indictment. However, that the subject should come up at all is distressing.

E. Ablorh-Odjidja, Publisher, Washington

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