Botswana dissapointed that Omar Al-Bashir fled arrest

Botswana yesterday said it was disappointed that Sudanese President Omar Al-Bashir fled arrest in South Africa and poked holes on President Robert Mugabe’s claims that Africa does not want the International Criminal Court (ICC).

The Botswana government said the African Union (AU) should assist the international community in seeking justice for victims of the genocide in Sudan’s Darfur region.

A South African court ordered Bashir’s arrest on Monday, but Al-Bashir, who is wanted by the ICC for crimes against humanity, sneaked out of the country before the AU summit ended.

Mugabe claimed South African President Jacob Zuma had told him that Al-Bashir would not be arrested. The Zimbabwean leader claimed the ICC was not wanted in Africa.

“This is not the headquarters of the ICC, we don’t want it in this region at all.

“There is a view that we should withdraw from the ICC…unfortunately, the treaty that set up the court was not signed by the AU, but by individual countries.

“The ICC was there to help us try cases, especially cases of violence in any country during an election, but those who signed are now regretting that. As Zimbabwe we said no to submitting ourselves to outside justice, we never signed up with ICC.”

Botswana, a signatory to the Rome Statute that created the ICC, and Malawi have openly opposed Mugabe’s campaign to force Africa to abandon the court based at The Hague.

Botswana President Ian Khama, who deputises Mugabe, who is Sadc chairperson, and the strongly-worded statement from his government indicated that the region is not fully behind Mugabe.

Botswana, which has been vocal on human rights violations including in Zimbabwe, praised the South African courts for being firm and bemoaned the AU’s soft approach towards Al-Bashir.

It said the Sudanese strongman would have been arrested if the summit had been held in Botswana.

“We commend this action that gives hope and optimism to the victims of these atrocities and brutality,” the statement added.

“We, therefore, find it disappointing that President Al-Bashir avoided arrest when he cut short his visit and fled, in fear of arrest, to his country.

“We call on all countries that are a State party to the Rome Statute of the ICC to co-operate with the ICC in ensuring that President Al-Bashir is made to account for the atrocities committed in Darfur and to support the international community’s efforts to provide justice for the victims.

“The African Union should lead by example in this regard.”

Mugabe himself has been threatened with ICC action for human rights violations that date back to the Gukurahundi atrocities that claimed over 20 000 lives in the 1980s.
Source: newsday

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