NewsEast & Horn AfricaAU is watching ex-Cote d'Ivoire president's case at the ICC


Posted on Thursday, 28 January 2016 15:27

AU is watching ex-Cote d'Ivoire president's case at the ICC

By Crystal Orderson in Addis Ababa

The African Union says it is following Cote d'Ivoire's ex-President Laurent Gbagbo's case at the ICC. Photo©ReutersThe African Union says it does not condone impunity and is following the Ivory Coast's ex-President Laurent Gbagbo's case at the International Criminal Court.

The landmark trial began at the International Criminal Court, ICC on Thursday and Gbagbo is the first former head of state to stand trial at the ICC in The Hague.

Trying a sitting president is not dignifying to Africa

Aisha Abdullahi, commissioner of political affairs at the AU Commission, told The Africa Report on the side lines of an AU meeting in Addis Ababba that: "Gbagbo is not a sitting leader but we are monitoring the case closely".

Gbagbo has denied charges of war crimes and crimes against humanity. The charges relate to the country's civil conflict that erupted after he lost elections in 2010.

There were clashes between rival forces for over five months in 2010 and 2011 and it is estimated that close 3,000 people were killed, with Gbagbo holing up in the presidential palace.

But Abdullahi said trying African presidents is disrespectful to Africa. "Trying a sitting president is not dignifying to Africa".

Sudanese President Omar al-Bashir was indicted by the ICC in 2009 for war crimes, crimes against humanity and genocide and the AU has publicly opposed his arrest several times on the grounds of his immunity as a head of state.

At an AU summit in Johannesburg in June 2015, a South African court ordered the government to arrest him -- but authorities allowed him to make a rapid exit from the country, triggering a domestic row.

Meanwhile, Abdullahi has reiterated the need for UN Security Council reforms. "We are asking for reform, we have 54 member states representing 1.1 billion people with no voice it the Security Council, this leaves much to be desired," he said.

Abdullahi says the AU has been asking for reforms at the UNSC to "promote fairness".

Outgoing AU chairperson, Zimbabwe's Robert Mugabe said, from Harare this week, that Africa "wants to see reforms enacted at the Security Council, and they want the continent to be given at least one seat as a permanent member.

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