NAIROBI, August 13 – Nobel laureate Wangari Maathai Wednesday challenged Sudanese President Omar Hassan El-Bashir to face the International Criminal Court (ICC) if he was innocent of Darfur-related charges.
Maathai said Bashir had a moral and political responsibility to protect his people but if he failed to carry out his mandate then the law should take its course even if it meant indictment in ICC.
President Bashir is being accused of genocide and other crimes against humanity.
“The International Court has been moved by people who are seeking justice and who have not gotten justice where they are. (ICC) is not a Kangaroo court, it is a responsible court. So it’s not likely to punish anybody who is innocent and therefore the President has nothing to fear,” she stated during a teleconference with fellow Nobel laureate Jody Williams of the United States of America.
Maathai also called on the African Union to rethink its position on the possible indictment of President Bashir and put more pressure to resolve the Darfur conflict.
“The African Union was concerned about the conflict but apparently they were more concerned about the issues around the ICC. And if leaders in Africa fail to protect their citizens are we saying that we would rather they continue suffering than have anybody outside the borders of Africa respond to the cry?” The Nobel Laureate questioned.
The AU leadership had suggested that such an indictment be conducted by Africans.
“I know some people feel jittery when an outside body comes across the borders and wants to pick one of the leaders of Africa.”
Last month, Kenya questioned the timing of the arrest of the Sudanese President and said it raised legal questions since Sudan was not a member of the International Criminal Court.
Vice President Kalonzo Musyoka argued that the move by ICC would threaten the implementation of the Comprehensive Peace Agreement ( signed with South Sudan) and possibly worsen the fragile situation in Darfur.
Kenya also lauded the African Union for taking a firm stand against the ICC in favour of alternative measures to resolve the Darfur crisis.