NAIROBI, July 24 – The African Union (AU) should reign in on the United Nations Security Council to freeze any prosecution of Sudanese President Omar Hassan al-Bashir by the International Criminal Court (ICC).
An indictment, as applied for by ICC Prosecutor Luis Moreno-Ocampo, would sound a death knell for the ongoing peace process in Darfur, and must therefore be rejected…at least for the time being.
The ICC’s move could further complicate the situation in Darfur and put at risk the security and stability of the region and Sudan at large.
The ICC should not exceed international law guidelines by making judicial accusations that carry double standards.
In the principle of peace and justice, the ICC should not rush the Sudan issue while ignoring other deadly conflicts that violate human rights.
The AU on the other hand, which appears a lame duck in continental affairs, must now take a proactive role in addressing pertinent the continent’s issues.
Should the ICC issue a warrant for the arrest of al-Bashir, peace prospects in Darfur would be severely undermined and the African Union would carry the blame, squarely.
The AU should therefore move with speed to persuade the UN Security Council to freeze any prosecution of al-Bashir, for a given duration.
The intervention would then give the AU time to come up with short and long term remedies on the issue.
Such may vary from the establishment of a high-level panel of distinguished Africans to examine the situation, exerting specific pressure on al-Bashir to end the violations the vast western part of his country.
During the duration, the Sudanese government should also be pressured to ensure it immediately investigates human rights violations in Darfur.
International efforts must be spent seeking a lasting solution to the violence in Darfur than in bringing al-Bashir before courts that may have little understanding of underlying issues in the conflict.
The AU should ensure Sudan is given a chance to resolve the crisis as it has previously engaged in peace efforts leading to a pact that ended 21 years of fighting in the southern part of the country in 2005.
ICC prosecutor Luis Moreno-Ocampo needs to be impressed upon that Africa can deal with its own problems, and only the AU can lead such a campaign.