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African Union Demands Security Council Suspend ICC Indictment Of Bashir

The African Union (AU) has called on the United Nations Security Council to suspend the International Criminal Court's (ICC) indictment of Sudanese President Omar Hassan al-Bashir for Darfur war crimes. The AU contends that the indictment would not only destabilize the country, but also undermine efforts to resolve the ongoing humanitarian crisis in the Darfur. The African Union's Peace and Security Council, which recently met in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, reportedly also requested creation of a panel of eminent Africans to come up with recommendations on how to address issues of accountability and reconciliation raised by the Darfur conflict. El- Ghassim Wane is the spokesman for the African Union. He tells reporter Peter Clottey from Addis Ababa that the African Union would not condone impunity for human rights abuses.

"The Peace and Security Council deliberated and decided on the matter in light of two considerations. The first one is of course the unflinching commitment of the African Union to combating impunity, and ensuring that those responsible for human rights violations in Darfur are brought to book. The second element is the need to preserve the gains made in the peace process and ensure our efforts, which we are jointly deploying with the UN, especially in Darfur. And it is in light of that that the Peace and Security Council made this request to the UN to defer the process initiated by the ICC," Wane noted.

He said the African Union is in the process of coming up with a commission to address the issue of accountability and others over the Darfur crisis.

"There is also a decision requesting a commission to put in place within one month an independent high level panel made up of distinguished Africans to come up with in-depth and concrete recommendations on how best to address the issues of accountability, combating impunity, reconciliation and healing in Darfur," he said.

Wane denied that the African Union delayed raising concerns when recommendations were made to the Security Council before the ICC requested President Bashir's possible indictment.

"There is really no a late move as such. As you are aware, the UN Security Council referred the matter to the ICC through resolution 1593. We as AU, there is a referral to the ICC, but there is also a request that was made through the AU to support efforts at reconciliation and healing in the Sudan. And on the strength of that resolution we undertook a number of initiatives. We organize a number of meetings and came up with recommendations of how we could push forward this agenda of combating impunity," Wane pointed out.

He said President Bashir's indictment would not help efforts to resolve the crisis in Darfur.

"But what we believe is that under the current circumstances and given the security of the process in Sudan, given also the process being made in the implementation of the Comprehensive Peace Agreement (CPA) signed between the government and the SPLM (Sudan People's Liberation Movement), really we believe that the application by the prosecutor of the ICC wont be helpful to the peace process," he said.

Wane said the African Union wants those who perpetrated crimes to be fully dealt with.

"We made a request not only for the deferral of the process and the way within the framework of the ICC, but the Peace and Security Council also did also come up with a roadmap on how to address the issue of impunity, accountability, and the issue of reconciliation and healing. It is our hope that the high level panel that the chairperson of the commission requested to be set up will be able to come up with concrete recommendations that would take into account the genuine concerns of all those who believe that the perpetrators of human rights violations in Darfur should be brought to justice,' Wane pointed out.