South Africa May Leave ICC Over al-Bashir Row

south africa on al bashir of sudanSouth Africa has announced plans to leave the International Criminal Court (ICC) after a row over the court’s attempt to have Sudan’s President, Omar al-Bashir arrested in the country.

Omar al-Bashir was in Johannesburg for the 25th Assembly of Heads of State and government of the African Union summit.

The Sudanese leader is wanted by the ICC on charges of genocide and war crimes, but he had denied allegations of committing atrocities in Sudan’s troubled western Darfur region.

After a cabinet meeting, the government said it would review membership “for a number of reasons”.

Meanwhile, a South African court had ordered Mr Bashir to stay in the country while it ruled whether he could be arrested,

The South African government had said that al-Bashir enjoyed diplomatic immunity.

The UN says about 300,000 people in Sudan have died and more than two million have fled their homes since fighting began in 2003.

It is reported that the South African government is due to explain its decision later on Thursday, although its statement may not be made public.

The Socio-Economic Rights and Accountability Project (SERAP) has called on the International Criminal Court (ICC) to refer South Africa to the UN Security Council for allowing al-Bashir to leave the country, ahead of a court ruling on whether he should be transferred to the ICC to stand.

Sudanese President Omar Al-Bashir Arrives In Khartoum

al-BashirSudanese President, Omar al-Bashir arrived in Khartoum on Monday (June 15) to a hero’s welcome after defying a South Africa court order for him to remain in the country until it ruled on an application for his arrest.

Hundreds thronged the Khartoum airport to welcome Bashir, who had been in South Africa to attend an African Union summit.

Bashir, whose plane touched down at 1530 GMT has been indicted by the International Criminal Court (ICC) over war crimes and crimes against humanity.

The Pretoria High Court was in session on Monday to decide on a petition by the Southern African Litigation Centre, a rights group that wanted to force South African President Jacob Zuma’s government to arrest al-Bashir and hand him over to the ICC.

South Africa is an ICC signatory and therefore obliged to implement arrest warrants, but the ruling African National Congress (ANC) on Sunday (June 14) accused the Hague-based court of being biased against Africans and said it was “no longer useful”.

Pretoria’s furious response and its decision to allow al-Bashir to leave is affirmation of its shifting diplomatic priorities with Africa’s interests trumping those of the West.

Judge Hans Fabricius on Sunday barred Bashir from leaving South Africa until he had made a decision on the application and had asked the government to inform all ports of exit not to allow the veteran Sudanese leader to leave.

However, Sudan’s State Minister Yasser Youssef told Reuters al-Bashir had left South Africa and was due to land in the Sudanese capital Khartoum at around 6:30pm local time.

Zuma’s government had given immunity to al-Bashir and all other delegates attending the AU summit.

The ICC issued arrest warrants for al-Bashir in 2009 and 2010, accusing him of masterminding genocide and other atrocities in his campaign to crush a revolt in the Darfur region.

He has long rejected the court’s authority.

The conflict in Darfur has killed as many as 300,000 people and displaced some two million, the United Nations says.

The ICC, the U.S. Department and the U.N. have criticised Pretoria for rolling out the red carpet for Bashir.

Wanted Sudan Leader Al-Bashir Leaves South Africa

sudan president Al-BashirSudan’s President, Omar Al-Bashir, has left the African Union Summit for Khartoum, flying out of a military base in South Africa’s capital, Pretoria.

Mr Al-Bashir’s departure came hours before the Pretoria High Court will rule on whether he should be handed over to the International Criminal Court (ICC), who have charged him with war crimes and genocide.

The Sudanese leader was in Johannesburg for the 25th Assembly of Heads of State and government of the African Union.

On Sunday, the court ordered Mr Al-Bashir not to leave the country until the case had been heard.

Al-Bashir is accused of committing war crimes, crimes against humanity and genocide during the Darfur Conflict.

The UN says about 300,000 people in Sudan have died and more than two million have fled their homes since fighting began in 2003.

Government forces and allied Arab militias are accused of targeting black African civilians in the fight against the rebels.

Full Text: President Buhari’s Speech at the Opening Session of the AU Summit

BuhariSTATEMENT BY MUHAMMADU BUHARI

PRESIDENT,

FEDERAL REPUBLIC OF NIGERIA

AT THE OPENING SESSION OF THE 25TH ASSEMBLY OF HEADS OF STATE AND GOVERNMENT OF THE AFRICAN UNION

JOHANNESBURG, SOUTH AFRICA

14TH JUNE 2015

Excellency President Robert Mugabe, Chairman of the Union,

Excellency President Jacob Zuma, our Host,

Excellencies fellow Presidents and Heads of Government

Excellency Mr. Jan Eliasson, Deputy Secretary-General of the United Nations,

Excellency Dr. Nkosazana Dlamini Zuma, Chairperson of the AU Commission,

Excellencies, Heads of Delegation,

Invited Guests, Distinguished Ladies and Gentlemen

1. Please permit me to join previous speakers in conveying my delegation’s appreciation to our host, H.E. President Jacob Zuma, to his Government, and the brotherly people of South Africa for their warm hospitality, and for the excellent arrangements made for our comfort and for the success of our meetings. As this is my first address at this august assembly, may I also congratulate H.E. Dr. Robert Gabriel Mugabe, President of the Republic of Zimbabwe, for his unanimous election as the Chairman of our Union.

2. I feel highly honoured and extremely pleased to be able to address you today, barely two weeks after my inauguration as the President of Nigeria, following the 2015 Presidential election in my country. That process, which was adjudged as the fairest and most credible in the history of elections in Nigeria, was midwifed by the dogged and sustained determination of the Nigerian people, and their desire to deepen our democracy. Their quest was amply supported, and even encouraged by the goodwill of our friends and partners in the international community. I therefore wish to seize this opportunity to convey my very deep appreciation to all those who contributed to the success of that election.

3. My election has been described as historic. I agree that it is indeed historic because for the first time in the practice of democracy in my country, an opposition Party has defeated the ruling Party in a keenly contested election. The election was also held against the backdrop of the fears and concerns expressed both in Nigeria and among our international friends abroad and partners that the outcome of the election could spell doom for Nigeria. I am glad that even though those fears and concerns were not without basis, the outcome was totally different, to the relief of all of us.

4. I cannot fail to acknowledge the very positive role played by my predecessor, H.E. President Goodluck Ebele Jonathan, in averting the feared crisis, and in facilitating the peaceful transition of power between the two parties. I also wish to express my deep appreciation to all who honoured us with their presence at my inauguration, and even those, who for unavoidable reasons were unable to attend. I thank you all.

Mr. Chairman,

5. It is gratifying to note that our Union has made laudable progress over the past one and a half decades since its transformation from the Organization of African Unity (OAU) to the African Union (AU). Notably, we have been able to redirect our priorities at the continental level from mainly political goals to more diverse aspirations that are equally fundamental to our survival and development in a global community.

6. It is however clear, Mr. Chairman, that some of the greater challenges to our peoples within this Union still lie in the political, economic, as well as peace and security spheres. Our continent is currently bedevilled by the twin evils of terrorism and insecurity; poverty, youth unemployment, and underdevelopment. The destructive effects of the inhuman and criminal campaigns of the Boko Haram insurgency in Nigeria and neighbouring countries; the Al-Shabab attacks in East Africa, and the activities of the Al-Qaida in the Maghreb, all bear testimony to a continent under siege.

Mr Chairman,

Excellencies and Colleagues

7. On our part, I was convinced on my assumption of office that the best approach would be to work within the framework of the Lake Chad Basin Commission (LCBC) to mobilse collective support to fight against Boko Haram. I have in this regard, directed the relocation of Nigeria’s Command Centre to place it closer to the theatre of action. Furthermore, I have vigorously engaged the members states of the LCBC to better coordinate the strategies and tactics in fighting the insurgency in the region. I believe that this approach can be enhanced through complimentary regional and continental efforts.

8. The images in the international mass media of African youths getting drowned in the Mediterranean sea on their illegal attempts, and often times illusory hope of attaining better life in Europe is not only an embarrassment to us as leaders, but dehumanises our persons. Indeed, they combine to paint a very unfavourable picture of our peoples and countries.

9. Those of us gathered here today owe it as a duty to reverse this ugly trend. We must put an end to the so-called push factors that compel our young men and women to throw caution to the winds and risk life, limbs and all, on this dangerous adventure. We must redouble our efforts to sustain the economic development of our countries, ensure empowerment of our youths, create more jobs, improve and upgrade our infrastructure, and above all continue the enthronement of a regime of democracy, good governance and respect for human rights and rule of law. These and other measures that engender peace and stability must be pursued relentlessly.

10. In this connection, we must persist in our collective endeavour to work together through the African Union and our respective Regional Economic Communities (RECs), to uplift our continent and provide the African peoples the enabling environment for the realization of their legitimate dreams and aspirations. At this juncture, let me assure you of the unflinching commitment of Nigeria to the ideals and aspirations of the African Union as explained in the Agenda 2063, which is geared towards ensuring a peaceful, prosperous and integrated Africa in the next 50 years. It is for this reason that Nigeria is fully and irrevocably committed to the ECOWAS vision.

11. We do so because we believe that African integration is best attained through the instrumentality of our Regional Economic Communities (RECs) as the building blocs of viable continental institutions. Nigeria will therefore continue to play her part in supporting the African Union Commission and other continental and regional institutions in their efforts to prioritize African development in all sectors of human endeavour.

12. The journey might look arduous, but certainly not impossible. There are opportunities in every challenge. If and when we adopt this call for a change of attitude, approach, and disposition towards agreed protocols and commitments, we shall be bequeathing a politically stable, economically developed, and socially harmonious Africa, thereby justifying the confidence reposed in us by our electorates. We will also demonstrate our qualities as statesmen and true daughters and sons of Africa.

13. I thank you for your kind attention.

AU Summit: 25th Ordinary Session Opens In South Africa

au summitThe ordinary session of the Assembly of Heads of State and Government of the African Union has opened on Sunday in South Africa.

African leaders congratulated newly-elected presidents including Muhammadu Buhari of Nigeria, Mozambique’s Filipe Nyusi and Pakalitha Mosisili of Lesotho.

They also congratulated Sudanese President Omar Al Bashir for conducting a successful poll.

This warm welcome is coming on the heels of a court order issued by a Pretoria high court judge, Hans Fabricious preventing President Al-Bashir from leaving South Africa.

The order is pending a decision of the court, to be made after an urgent application that Al Bashir be arrested today.

The judge made the order after granting the state a 3-hour period in which to prepare arguments in response to South Africa litigation centre’s application that President Jacob Zuma and the National Prosecuting Authority arrest Al Bashir on the order of the International Crimes Court (ICC).

As a signatory of the Rome treaty, South Africa is obliged to arrest the president, but the AU has previously refused to heed the ICC call, accusing them of targeting African leaders.

The ceremony featured statement by President Buhari and other newly elected and outgoing Heads of State and Government.

The Nigerian President, Muhammadu Buhari, on Saturday chaired the Peace and Security Council meeting at the 25th AU Summit holding in Johannesburg, South Africa.

Talks at the meeting largely focused on security challenges facing some African countries, as participants sought better ways of tackling insurgency in some West African countries.

Sudanese President Prevented From Leaving South Africa

south-africaA Pretoria High Court Judge, Hans Fabricius, has issued an interim order, preventing Sudanese President, Omar Al-Bashir, from leaving South Africa.

The court says President Bashir will have to stay until it hears an application later on Sunday on whether he should be handed over to the International Criminal Court (ICC).

The application was made, following the ICC’s order that Al-Bashir be arrested immediately he landed in South Africa to attend the African Union (AU) summit currently being held in Johannesburg, for which he reportedly arrived on Saturday.

As a signatory of the Rome treaty, South Africa is obliged to arrest the President, but the AU has previously refused to heed the ICC call, accusing them of targeting African Leaders.

The ICC issued Warrants of Arrest against Al-Bashir in 2009, for committing war crimes and crimes against humanity over the Dafur, Sudan Conflict.

The conflict claimed the lives of more than 400,000 people, and left more than two million more displaced.