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AU to press UNSC to withdraw Darfur case from ICC

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February 1, 2015 (KHARTOUM) – Sudan’s foreign minister, Ali Karti, has announced that the African Union (AU) will make a new push to with the UN Security Council (UNSC) to withdraw the Darfur case from the International Criminal Court (ICC) as decided by the AU summit this week in Addis Ababa.

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Sudanese foreign minister Ali Karti speaking to reporters in Khartoum on 28 December 2014 (ST)

According to newspaper reports published in Khartoum on Sunday, the summit called on the UNSC to suspend ICC case against Sudanese President Omer al-Bashir.

These reports also stated that the AU Executive Council adopted a draft resolution calling for cancelling UNSC referral of Darfur case to ICC and supporting of African Court on Human and People’s Rights.

African foreign ministers were also reportedly angry over what they called a threat by some European partners to stop funding should AU insist on founding the African court.

Kenya has spearheaded calls on African countries to sign the draft statute of the African Court during the meeting and Sudan also expressed full support for the move, stressing its intention to sign it.

The UNSC has referred the Sudan case to the ICC under a Chapter VII resolution in 2005 since Sudan is not a state party to the court.

Sudanese president Omer Hassan al-Bashir, defence minister Abdel-Rahim Mohamed Hussein, former state minister for interior Ahmed Haroun and Janjaweed leader Ali Kushayb have been indicted by the ICC for war crimes and crimes against humanity allegedly committed in Darfur.

The African Union constantly accuses the ICC of disproportionately targeting Africans. Several countries including Kenya, Sudan, Eritrea, Uganda, Zimbabwe and Libya have called for en mass withdrawal of African nations from the court at some point but without success.

The ICC has formally opened investigations into eight cases, all of which are in Africa including Uganda, the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC), Central African Republic (CAR), Darfur, Kenya, Libya, Côte d’Ivoire and Mali.

Five of the eight cases were referred voluntarily by the African governments in question; two through a UNSC resolution supported by all but one African member in the council at the time and the Kenyan case was opened at the ICC prosecutor’s request with Nairobi’s consent.

The AU has been heavily criticized by rights groups for calling for a halt to ICC cases against African leaders, with rights groups saying the African Union encourages impunity. Last year, the AU passed a resolution not to allow a sitting head of state or deputy to be prosecuted at the ICC.

The Sudanese foreign minister said that Khartoum will follow-up in the coming days on AU steps and strongly denied the existence of disagreements among African leaders on the request to freeze the Darfur case.

Karti said that AU leaders issued many decisions in support of Sudan, pointing out that the decision to call for the withdrawal of the Darfur case is the most significant and powerful.

The minister stressed that Sudan was supported strongly by the AU but noted that "the UNSC did not care at many times about African decisions, as it did not care about other resolutions relevant to Arab issues”.

Meanwhile, Sudan’s second vice-president, Hassabo Mohammed Abdel-Rahman, praised the AU summit for calling for the suspension of its proceedings against Bashir, saying it demonstrates that the AU enjoys regional and international clout and is able to bring peace to the continent.

(ST)

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