United Nations Secretary, Ban Ki-Moon Tuesday urged African leaders to convince the President of Sudan, Omar Bashir and Lord’s Resistance Army (LRA) rebel leaders led by Joseph Kony to present themselves to the International Criminal Court in The Hague to answer accusations allegedly committed against humanity.
Mr. Ban Ki-moon made the statement while addressing delegates attending the ICC review conference at Munyonyo resort hotel in Kampala, Uganda. According to the UN Secretary General “African presidents should talk to Bashir and Joseph Kony and convince them to hand themselves over to the ICC in Hague. They should go to The Hague and answer accusations against them for allegedly committing crime against humanity.”
The ICC meeting which is currently taking place at Munyonyo in Uganda is being attended by 111 delegates from 111 member countries. It was was opened yesterday. Supporting the General Secretary’s appeal to African leaders, ICC procecutor, Moreno-Ocampo also called on all member countries to support ICC to arrest the indicted suspects.
Mr. Moreno-Ocampo’s call comes nearly a year after African Union leaders rejected an earlier call to arrest or extradite Mr. Bashir although analysts had argued that it was not the place of the African Union to speak in the stead of the 30 individual African nations that were signatories to the Rome Statute of the International Criminal Court. “African leaders may make political statements but individual nations’ laws take precedence,” Moreno Ocampo said in July, 2009 in Addis Ababa on the sidelines of a meeting with a high level African Union panel on Darfur led by former South African President Thabo Mbeki.
AU’s refusal under Gaddafi
The AU decision came after the International Criminal Court (ICC) charged Sudanese President al-Bashir with war crimes and crimes against humanity in March, 2009 for allegedly orchestrating a campaign of murder, torture, rape and forced expulsions in the Darfur province of Sudan. Two of the ICC judges had expressed their dissatisfaction with the indictment saying that there was insufficient evidence to charge him with genocide. While the entire chamber accepted seven charges – five crimes against humanity and two war crimes – the two judges refused the charges on genocide.
But the 2009 July summit which was chaired by Libyan leader Muammar Gaddafi was condemned by Botswana. The Southern African nation declared that the subject was not properly discussed. Senior Botswanan officials said the decision was forced upon AU members by Libyan leader Muammar Gaddafi who was chairman of the union. Chad and Botswana were among a handful of African countries to have reportedly resisted the AU resolution to allow Mr. Bashir the freedom to travel around africa, unpeturbed.
Mr. Bashir has also enjoyed the support of the Arab League members and has been able to visit several countries since his indictment. Last year, however, a coalition of human rights groups from the Middle East urged the Arab league leaders to recognize the hopeless situation in Darfur especially in what concerns the suffering masses and not to protect Omar el-Bashir.
Lord’s Resistance Army
For over twenty years, since early 1980’s, LRA rebels, led by Joseph Kony, have killed, raped, abducted children and maimed several thousands of people in northern Uganda. In 2006 after being made to relocate to southern Sudan due to pressure from Uganda army, they accepted to talk peace. Talks went on up to 2008, but Kony refused to sign the final peace agreement. In recent times, the rebels often emerge in parts of the sub-region to kill civilians.
Sunday, Ban Ki-Moon and Uganda’s president Yoweri Museveni engaged in a football match to mark Uganda’s war victims day, which fell on 30th May. The day was set aside to remember those harassed, raped, killed, maimed and abducted by LRA rebels in northern Uganda.