African leaders reiterate support for el-Bashir

Kampala- Uganda (PANA) -- Encouraged by pro-Bashir arguments from 'unlikely' quarters, the African Union (AU) Sunday reiterated total support for the Sudanese President Omer el-Bashir, who is wanted for genocide charges by the International Criminal Court at the Hague, Netherlands.
Saying that el-Bashir's arrest would breach immunity of elected leaders, AU Chairman Bingu wa Mutharika, said the arrest warrant against the Sudanese leader was a violation of the immunity granted to leaders of independent countries and should be rejected.
Mutharika's stand was corroborated earlier in the day by UK lawyers and a network of Sudanese NGOs who asked African leaders meeting in Kampala, Uganda, to appeal to the International Court of Justice (ICJ) to revoke the warrants of arrest against el-Bashir.
The lawyers -- Sir Geoffrey Nice (QC) and Rodney Dixon, both of Temple garden chambers of London, contend that the warrants were illegal as "the issue of immunity for a sitting President has never been resolved, and can only be dealt with by the ICJ.
"There is general concern in Africa that the issuance of a warrant of arrest on President El-Bashir, a duly elected President of the Sudan, is a violation of the principles of sovereignty guaranteed under the UN Charter," Mutharika said amid applause from African leaders listening to his speech at the opening of the 15th Summit of the African leaders in Kampala, Uganda.
Mutharika said there were issues that had been raised by the African leaders regarding the issuance of the second arrest warrant.
Among the issues is that the arrest and trial of President el-Bashir could worsen the fragile situation in the Sudan.
Fighting in Darfur has worsened this year, the worst since the start of the war in 2003.
President Mutharika, the Malawian leader, did not entirely rule out fresh negotiations on the ICC arrest warrant, saying there should be discussions on which position should be finally adopted.
"Maybe there are ways of addressing the problems.
Let us together explore these options," Mutharika said.
President el-Bashir cancelled plans to attend the AU Summit after a Ugandan foreign ministry official said the East African nation was obligated to arrest him because it was a signatory to the ICC treaty.
But the Sudanese leader has travelled to Chad for a regional leader’s Summit, which the Sudanese government later termed as a successful challenge to the ICC.

25 july 2010 14:02:00




xhtml CSS