The commissioner of the African Union’s Peace and Security Council, Ramtane Lamamra, said the African Union stands by its decision that the International Criminal Court’s (ICC) indictment of Sudan President Omar al-Bashir is counter-productive.
Last March, the ICC issued an arrest warrant for President Bashir for crimes against humanity in Sudan’s Western Darfur region.
Lamamra reiterated the AU's position reached last July that the ICC indictment could hamper efforts to achieve peace and reconciliation in Sudan.
“We said very clearly that the indictment has the potential to pour fuel on fire, that the indictment could be counterproductive with respect to the efforts toward achieving peace and national reconciliation without endangering the need for justice,” he said.
With Sudan’s general elections scheduled for this April, Lamamra said the people of Sudan will have a chance to decide who should lead them.
“The very fact that President Bashir is running for election means clearly that the first judge would be the people of Sudan, and hopefully the general in the month of April this year would be instrumental in Sudan’s endeavor toward political and peaceful transformation that will help us address the challenges of the January 2011 referendum,” he said.
The U.S.-based Human Rights Watch this week again criticized the African Union decision to oppose the ICC indictment of President Bashir.
Richard Dicker, director of the International Justice Program at Human Rights Watch said the AU seems less concerned about the innocent people who he said have being killed in Sudan.
“When hundreds of thousands of people are slaughtered, the international community understands that those most responsible need to be held to account in a fair trial. So to cite reconciliation as an excuse or a reason to oppose justice, is an argument that I think better belongs in the 19th or 20th Century, the early part but not the 21st Century,” said
At its summit held in July last year in Sirte, Libya, the African Union accused the ICC of unfairly targeting Africans for prosecution.