Ethiopia: AU says Gbagbo's trial shows Africa does not condone impunity

Addis Ababa, Ethiopia (PANA) -The African Union (AU) said on Thursday the trial of former Ivorian president Laurent Gbagbo shows Africa does not condone impunity.

The continental body insisted that respect for immunity from prosecution of serving African leaders is a precondition to good foreign relations.

AU Commissioner for Political Affairs Aisha Abdullahi said the AU has no intention of stopping the law from taking its course in cases where African citizens were accused of international crimes.

However, she said the right of African leaders to serve their terms and be treated with dignity during their term in office was required as a sign of respect to all Africans.

“Leaders enjoy immunity. They must be respected as long as they are serving. It would be respect to us,” Abdullahi told a news conference in Addis Ababa on the sidelines of the AU Executive Council meeting.

Ministers preparing the agenda of the 26th session of the Assembly of the African Union on Saturday agreed to discuss the ongoing trial of Kenya’s Deputy President William Ruto during the session.

Gbagbo's trial kicked off at the International Criminal Court (ICC) headquarters in The Hague, Netherlands, on Thursday. According to the ICC, he pleaded not guilty to four counts of crimes against humanity.

Gbagbo was handed over to the Court in 2011, charged with crimes against humanity committed in his country during the post-election violence in December 2011.

According to Abdullahi, the AU does not intend to stop trial of leaders facing charges after serving their terms in office. “Gbagbo is no longer a leader and is facing his case at The Hague,” she said.

The AU has faced criticism for shielding Sudanese President Omar El Bashir, who is facing charges of crimes against humanity and genocide, from facing prosecution at The Hague.

The continental body's forthcoming summit is dedicated to discussion of human rights issues and the rights of women.

Abdullahi said the African leaders have dedicated the year to human rights and conflicts with key focus on the root-causes of conflict.

-0- PANA AO/AR 28Jan2016

28 january 2016 19:27:32

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