Ethiopia: 'African leaders must account for crimes against humanity'

Addis Ababa, Ethiopia (PANA) - African leaders who allow civilian killings in their efforts to cling to power would be held responsible, the UN Secretary-General Ban Ki Moon said on Saturday.

Addressing the African Union Summit here Saturday, the UN Secretary-General called on African countries to support the work of the International Criminal Court (ICC), saying The Hague-based Court has been working to support victims of heinous crimes in Africa.  

“The trial of Hissene Habre in Senegal is a landmark for African justice. African governments were instrumental in establishing the ICC, the ultimate guarantor of accountability for the victims of war crimes and crimes against humanity,” Ban said in a speech to the African leaders.

The UN Chief spoke as an AU Summit Committee on Open Ended Ministerial Committee, to engage with the UN and the Security Council on how to stop the cases against Sudanese President Omar El Bashir and the trial of Kenyan Deputy President William Ruto at the ICC.

The draft decisions of the AU on the open ended ministerial committee’s work threatens the AU would pull out of the ICC enmasse if the ICC continues to listen to non-governmental organisations.

The draft resolution accuses the ICC of constantly turning a blind eye to the AU and other African countries and alleges the Court is held down by the whims of certain powers.

Ban pleaded with the African leaders to remain faithful to this year’s theme of human rights.

Ban, who said this year’s Summit would be his last as UN Secretary-General, called on the friends of the Court to maintain their support to the court.

“I commend those nations that are actively supporting the Court’s vital work and maintaining their commitment to the Rome Statute. Strengthening the court will ensure accountability for victims in Africa and around the world,” the UN chief said.

Critics have branded the ICC racist for choosing some African leaders. The AU maintains its efforts to call for the delay in the trial of continental leaders accused of crimes against humanity does not mean the continent condones impunity, maintaining the efforts are to ensure respect for serving leaders.

While most countries in East Africa have pitched a campaign against the trial of leaders at the ICC, observers at the AU say the West African block has not raised eyebrows over the trial of former Ivorian leader Laurent Gbagbo at the ICC.

Ban also asked the African leaders to respect the constitutional mandates and stop using loopholes to run for third term tenures in office.

“Leaders should never use undemocratic constitutional changes and legal loopholes to cling to power. We have all seen the tragic consequences when they do. Leaders must protect their people, not themselves. I commend those leaders who committed to stepping aside and respect the constitutional term limits,” Ban said.

The AU ministerial committee on the UN, headed by Ethiopia, has indicated it would seek a review and views on proposals on plans to transfer the power of arrest for the ICC suspects to the UN to its Peace and Security Council.

Meanwhile, this year's Summit has seen President of the Congo Republic, Dennis Sassou Nguesso, miss the Summit, alongside the Burundian President Pierre Nkurunziza, among the countries accused of using loopholes to enact laws for third-term leaders.

The two states were all elected members of the PSC, with Burundi reportedly getting 38 votes to retain an AU seat.
-0- PANA AO/VAO 30Jan2016

30 january 2016 15:26:54

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