Former South African President Thabo Mbeki has inquired and proposed a report that would expectedly balance the need for justice, peace and reconciliation in Darfur, reports claim. The reports would be presented to the African Union for implementation.
Experts say the Mbeki report is likely to recommend a local tribunal, backed by the AU, Sudan and possibly the Arab League; to deal with the abuses committed in Darfur. But critics of the African Union say the organization is using the commission only to find a way of avoiding the International Criminal Court (ICC) warrant for Mr. Bashir’s arrest. The AU has already refused to honor the warrant and Mr. Bashir has rejected the charges against him, accusing the ICC of colonialism.
However the rest of the African community is waiting to see whether the AU will accept and implement Mbeki’s recommendations that has come after the UN’s outgoing commander in Darfur in August declared that the region was no longer in a state of war, but rather faced low-level conflict and criminality.
The Darfur conflict began in 2003 when black African rebel groups took up arms against the government in Khartoum, complaining of discrimination and neglect. In response, pro-government Arab militias then started a campaign of violence, targeting the black African population.
Legitimacy of Genocide
Some Human Rights activist described the conflict as genocide, following reports that the Arab-led Sudanese government helped organize the militia attacks against the black communities. The ICC’s prosecutors claimed that al-Bashir masterminded and implemented a plan to destroy in substantial part of three tribal groups in Darfur because of their ethnicity but admitted to the lack of sufficient evidence.
On 31 January 2005, the UN released a 176-page report saying that while there were mass murders and rapes of Darfur civilians, they could not label the atrocities as genocide because genocidal intent appears to be missing. Many activists, however, refer to the crisis in Darfur as genocide, including the Save Darfur Coalition and the Genocide Intervention Network. These organizations point to statements by former United States Secretary of State Colin Powell, referring to the conflict as genocide. Other activist organizations, such as Amnesty International, while calling for international intervention, avoid the use of the term genocide.
In May 2006 the Sudan Liberation Movement/Army, signed a peace agreement with the Sudanese government. The other faction of the SLM refrained from signing the agreement. On 31 August 2006, the United Nations Security Council approved Resolution 1706 which called for a new 26,000-troop UN peacekeeping force called UNAMID to supplant or supplement a poorly funded and ill-equipped 7,000-troop African Union Mission in Sudan peacekeeping force.
Sudan strongly objected to the resolution and said that it would see the UN forces in the region as foreign invaders. The following day, the Sudanese military launched a major offensive in the region.
In March 2007 the UN mission accused Sudan’s government of orchestrating and taking part in gross violations in Darfur and called for urgent international action to protect civilians there. But the ICC rejected a request to charge Mr. Bashir with genocide. However Mr. Bashir has been charged by the ICC with two counts of war crimes – intentionally directing attacks against civilians and pillaging. He is also accused of five crimes against humanity – murder, extermination, forcible transfer, torture and rape. In February 2009, Darfur’s UNAMID tried to persuade the rebel group Justice and Equality Movement (JEM) and the Sudanese government to sign a peace agreement