African nations unite to defend Sudanese leader

Author: By Associated Press

The decision at the African Union summit said AU members “shall not cooperate”
with the court in The Hague “in the arrest and transfer of President Omar
al-Bashir of the Sudan to the ICC”.

Sudan welcomed the move, and other Africans said it was a signal to the West
that it shouldn’t impose its ways on Africa. A human rights group said the
decision was a gift to a dictator.

The 13th AU summit of heads of state, which concluded yesterday in Sirte,
Libya, also “expresses its preoccupation about the behaviour of the ICC
prosecutor” Luis Moreno Ocampo, whom African officials describe as too hard
on Africans.

The ICC has launched investigations into four cases since it was created seven
years ago – all of them in Africa.

Sudan rejoiced at the AU’s rebuttal of the ICC. “It’s the confirmation of what
we always said: The indictment is a political thing, not a legal thing,”
Foreign Minister El Samany El Wasila said just after the decision was made
public.

Mr El Wasila declined to comment on whether Mr al-Bashir would now feel free
to travel to the 30 African countries that are party to the ICC. “We don’t
even want to think about it anymore,” he said of the international court.

Some AU leaders said there was strong opposition to the summit’s decision.
Benin Foreign Minister Jean-Marie Ehouzou said that Sudan’s neighbour and
antagonist, Chad, objected to the wording.

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