The Minister of Foreign Affairs and Regional Integration, Alhaji Muhammad Mumuni, has emphasized that Ghana will not arrest Omar Hassan Ahmad Al Bashir, the Sudanese President if he is to visit the country.
According to him, although Ghana highly respects the International Criminal Court, which issued the arrest warrant for the Sudanese President for his alleged atrocities in Darfur, the country cannot abide by that order.
The ICC issued a warrant for the arrest of Al Bashir, President of Sudan, for war crimes and crimes against humanity. He is suspected of being criminally responsible, as an indirect (co-)perpetrator, for intentionally directing attacks against an important part of the civilian population of Darfur, Sudan, murdering, exterminating, raping, torturing and forcibly transferring large numbers of civilians, and pillaging their property. This is the first warrant of arrest ever issued for a sitting Head of State by the ICC.
Answering questions at the weekly meet the press series in Accra, Alhaji Mumuni explained that Ghana's decision not to arrest Mr Al Bashir was tied to the stand of the African Union, which it is a member state.
The AU, made up of all 53 African states with the exception of Morocco, issued a resolution on July 3, 2009, stating that they would refuse to cooperate with the indictment of Sudanese President Omar Al Bashir by the International Criminal Court. The resolution explains that the AU members have decided not to cooperate with the warrant against Al Bashir "in view of the fact that a request of the African Union [to defer Al Bashir's indictment] has never been acted upon." It also cites Article 98 of the Rome Statute, which indicates that "the Court may not proceed with a request for surrender or assistance which would require the requested State to act inconsistently with its obligations under international law with respect to the State or diplomatic immunity of a person or property of a third State, unless the Court can first obtain the cooperation of that third State for the waiver of the immunity."
Alhaji Mumuni indicated that President Al Bashir is a sitting President of a sovereign country and his immunity has to be respected. But quickly added that despite Ghana's stand on the ICC arrest warrant, the country does not approve of impunity.
Another Sub Regional matter the Foreign Affairs Minister touched on was the tension in Niger, which he described as “worrying”. He said Niger is abandoning democratic tenets and embracing conflicts.
Mr Mumuni disclosed that the Niger matter came up at the last ECOWAS summit and the Vice President of Niger who attended the meeting painted a different picture of the situation. He said the Nigerien Vice President told the summit that all the steps that they have taken were lawful and allowed by their Constitution.
The Minister indicated that ECOWAS is disturbed by the Nigerien situation and every effort will be made to address it.
Touching on the recent MOU signed by Ghana and Gambia concerning the alleged killing and disappearing of 44 Ghanaians in the Gambian which attracted huge public outcry, Mr Mumuni said that matter is peacefully being resolved. He debunked rumours that 44 Ghanaians were killed in the incident. According to him, “the fact finding report indicated that only 8 bodies were found and 6 were positively identified as Ghanaians. And this report forms the basis for negotiation between Ghana and Gambia that eventually led to signing of the MOU.” He said the two countries have agreed in principle to set up a joint committee to address the modalities of implementing the MOU, adding, “It is expected that the two countries would then begin the process of restoring the cordial relations that existed between them before this unfortunate incident.”
The 1992 Constitution identifies the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Regional Integration as the lead Institution for coordinating the implementation of Ghana's foreign policy objectives.
According to the Foreign Affairs Minster, the pursuit of peace and security will continue to be given high priority in the conduct of Ghana's foreign policy as they are essential for growth and prosperity. “It is our conviction that Ghana's internal peace, security and development remain inseparable from sub-regional peace and stability. The government's policy of deepening good neighbourliness and engagement in the promotion of regional peace and security have resulted in the containment of deadly conflicts in our sub-region and the restoration of hope and calm to war torn areas,” he added.