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African states stay loyal to the ICC

By Patrick Smith
Posted on Monday, 21 September 2009 00:00

Libya, Egypt and Gabon have all tried to rally AU member states against the International Criminal Court’s issuing of an arrest warrant for Sudan’s President Omer el Beshir for war crimes in Darfur, with mixed results. After the AU’s Sirte summit, Libyan leader Muammar Qadhafi wanted Africa’s 30 members of the ICC to quit the organisation in protest against its actions, which he called a “new world terrorism”.

Kenyan foreign minister Moses Wetangula explained the AU’s position on 5 August: “The AU does not and has not and will not say that President Beshir is innocent because it doesn’t have the capacity to do that. Nobody will stand in the way of President Beshir being arrested and prosecuted, but for now the AU’s position is that let’s see what internal mechanisms can be done.” After the Sirte summit, Botswana, Uganda and Chad all questioned the legality of the decision to suspend cooperation with the ICC.

Archbishop Desmond Tutu and former UN Secretary General Kofi Annan have tried to promote African governments’ support for the ICC. They are helped by the widening of the court’s focus to include non-African states. The court has opened major investigations in Afghanistan, Colombia, Palestine, Georgia, as well Côte d’Ivoire and Kenya. Prosecutor Luis Moreno Ocampo said that Africa’s 30 member states of the ICC met in Addis Ababa to reiterate their commitment to the court and reject any pressure for them to quit. The ICC continues to work closely with organisations and governments on efforts to increase international judicial accountability.

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