Zambia's former president Frederick Chiluba has reportedly petitioned the African Union to intervene in his pending corruption trial in Britain. The appeal is based on a resolution adopted by the AU at its summit in Sudan last week. The resolution opposes the decision to take former Chadian president Hissene Habre to Belgium for trial over allegations of human rights abuse. A letter obtained by the AFP wire service indicates the former president wants all his trials to be held in Zambia. The Zambian government has decided to try Chiluba in the London high court for theft of public funds. The former Zambian leader allegedly owns properties in Britain. He is also facing corruption and theft charges at home tied to his ten-year tenure as president of Zambia, from 1991 to 2001.
Tajudeen Abdul Raheem of the London-based think tank Justice Africa told English to Africa reporter Ashenafi Abedje that Chiluba’s appeal lacks sufficient grounds. He says, “He is not sure how many AU resolutions Chiluba obeyed during his time as president.” Abdul Raheem says he sees no correlation between Chiluba’s case and that of former Chadian president Hissene Habre. The analyst describes the charges against Chiluba as a “test case, where a former leader is being tried for corruption and asking the African Union to intercede on his behalf.” He says, “The AU should take an assertive stand reaffirming that nobody should exercise sovereignty against corruption.”
Abdul Raheem says the Chiluba case “represents a new face in Africa that things cannot continue the way they used to. That leaders must be made accountable, whether they are in office or out of office.” He says, “What is happening to Chiluba should be a lesson to other leaders, that there will be no more impunity in Africa.”