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Sudan : ICC Continues to Target African Leaders, Ignoring the Real War Criminals

Sudanese President Omar al-Bashir arrives in Khartoum, after attending the African Union Summit in Johannesburg, June 15, 2015. © AFP
Sudanese President Omar al-Bashir arrives in Khartoum, after attending the African Union Summit in Johannesburg, June 15, 2015. © AFP

Press TV has interviewed Abayomi Azikiwe, a Detroit-based editor of Pan-African News Wire, to ask for his take on a call by the International Criminal Court (ICC) to arrest Sudanese President Omar al-Bashir on the sidelines of the African Union Summit in Johannesburg. A rough transcription of the interview follows.

Press TV: What do you make of this whole affair where a sitting head of state was first stopped from leaving a foreign country where he was invited first of all and then the court ruled that he should be arrested yet he left?

Azikiwe: There are two major issues involved in this. First of all this harassment and prosecution of the Sudanese president, Omar Hassan al-Bashir, has been going on now for nearly a decade. The International Criminal Court was established by what was known as the Rome Statute and only the groups that are signatories to the Rome Statute are bound to abide by its regulations. The major criticism against the International Criminal Court is that it only targets African heads of state and African rebel leaders. The real culprits in terms of crimes against humanity, wars, regime change and genocidal conflicts are not being targeted by the International Criminal Court; there has been no indictment against George Bush, against Barack Obama, against Tony Blair, David Cameron or the others. So this is clearly a biased effort, plus it also demonstrates the fact that even within the South African judicial system, there are elements who in fact are not working in the interest of Africa. President Bashir was invited there as part of the African Union Summit. That takes priority over any court that is based in the Netherlands, which is in Europe, which is a former colonial and slave-owning nation.

Press TV: Indeed! Also the facts put forward about the whole issue with Bashir is the situation in Darfur. Now wouldn’t that warrant some sort of an action on the part of the International Criminal Court? Is the International Criminal Court justified in pushing this arrest warrant considering the situation in Darfur?

Azikiwe: No, because there is no substantial evidence that crimes against humanity, let alone genocide, has been committed in the western region of Sudan known as Darfur. The problems in Darfur were inherited from the legacy of the British imperialism, plus there is outside interest involved, the United States as well as Israel, that arms, finances, and coordinates many of these rebel groups in western Sudan. So these are the elements that need to be analyzed. Sudan used to be the largest geographic nation-state in Africa until 2011 when the country was partitioned at the behest of the United States, Britain, ans Israel. This is a further effort to Balkanize the country by breaking off the western region of Darfur.

MTM/KA


Related:
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The Criminalisation of International Justice

Dossier on UK War Crimes in Iraq Goes to the International Criminal Court

Africa vs the ICC’s “Selective Justice”

If Charles Taylor is a War Criminal, Then So are Obama, Bush and Clinton

Aggression Against Libya: Examining the Past – Looking Towards the Future

Central Africa: The Concept of “Failed State” a Cover for International Crimes

By Alexander Mezyaev
Libya 360°

A coup d’état took place in the Central African Republic this March. The events continue to unfold in the most unfavorable way to aggravate the tragedy. It was clear from the very start that the coup is a result of intense interference from outside. (1) Now the goals are becoming understandable and the prospects foreseeable.

The attempts are on the way to legitimize the military coup and restore the state power. The Transitional Charter was made public in July launching the formation of state agencies to operate during the transition period of a year and a half or two years. The new government is destroying all acts of civil status to complicate the future process of preparing voters’ registration lists. (2) To some extent it reminds the events in Western Sahara. The Moroccans (presumed to be Western Saharans) moved into the country in great numbers to stop the process of identification of those who have a right to take part in the referendum on independence, which has been planned for many dozens of years already. On August 16 the Transitional Constitutional Court judges swore the oath followed in two days by Michel Djotodia, the former leader of Seleka rebel coalition, who was sworn in as the new president of the Central African Republic (CAR) on August 18. It all happens against the background of full and all-embracing collapse of statehood in the country. According to Special Representative of the Secretary-General and Head of BINUCA (the United Nations integrated Peacebuilding Office in the Central African Republic) Lieutenant General Babacar Gaye of Senegal, the crisis has affected the entire Central Africa’s population of 4, 6 million. 1,6 million suffer from lack of food and water. Over 200 thousand have become displaced inside the country and around 60 thousand had to flee it. Children don’t go to schools which are destroyed by war or occupied by armed formations. (3)

“The Central African Republic is not yet a failed State but has the potential to become one if swift action is not taken”, Under-Secretary-General for Humanitarian Affairs Valerie Amos warned in her briefing to the Security Council. (4) The central authority still exists (though being in the hands of rebels who have illegally grabbed the power), but the state is non-existent in the provinces: no police, no prosecutor offices, and no courts. There is no industry, no agriculture. It’s already clear there will be no harvest next year and the prospect of hunger is very real (only limited amount of seeds has been sown by peasants). So the human catastrophe is to continue making necessary an “international community intervention”, the idea which is bolstered by practical and information support.

Religion is another aspect to characterize what is happening in the Central African Republic, but somehow it is shied away. Seleca, the group that has captured power, was homegrown in the north; mainly populated by Muslims (the northern part of Central Africa shares its longest border with Chad, a predominantly Muslim country). No matter Muslims make up only 15 percent of the Central African population, they dominate the Seleca ranks. The Chad’s involvement into the Central Africa’s March coup was not an occasion.

It all leads to the supposition that the creation of “failed state” in the Central African Republic is not a ramification of the recent coup, but rather its goal. The situation can be compared to the way some forms of stomach ulcer progress. In case of surgical intervention a sore gets open at another place. In the 1990s the Islamists were driven out of Algeria to appear in Mali. Al Qaeda being driven out of Mali is to appear somewhere else. The Central African Republic’s coup leader Michel Djotodia wrote a letter to the Organization of Islamic Cooperation (5) asking for its help to create an Islamic state in the country. No matter he said it was not him, who wrote it, the Christian churches have come under attacks and are subject to devastation. (6) Al Qaeda is not the only one; the region is swarm with terrorist organizations, Islamist groups or Christian sects. For instance, The Lord’s Resistance Army (LRA), also known as the Lord’s Resistance Movement, is a militant movement, which is described by some as a new religious organization or a cult which was operating in northern Uganda and South Sudan. (7) Gradually pushed away from Uganda it now finds refuge in the Central African Republic. Of course, it has no relation to Lord, but it does have relation to diamonds instead – it is located in Upper Kotto, the area where the Central African diamonds are extracted.

The African-Led International Support Mission in the Central African Republic (AFISM-CAR,) was launched on August 1, in accordance with the decisions of the Peace and Security Council of the African Union. This is the second time the states of Africa try to conduct a peacekeeping operation under an African command. The force is three and a half thousand men strong. The missions assigned are to provide protection to civilians, stabilize the situation in the country, maintain law and order, restore the central government’s power, reshape defense and security structures, and, finally, create proper conditions for providing humanitarian aid to civilians. (8) According to United Nations Charter, the African Union is to receive the United Nations Security Council’s approval. The last Security Council’s session was wrapped up upon taking a decision to go to another office for «informal consultations».

There is a statement too important to be ignored. U.N. Assistant Secretary-General for Human Rights Ivan Simonovic signaled to the Security Council that the African Union force would not be enough to combat the crisis in Central African Republic, which borders six other states. «A much larger and nationally more diversified force is needed to provide security and protect the population», Simonovic said. «Such a force would also prevent foreign rebel groups, such as the Lord’s Resistance Army or Islamist extremist groups, from finding a safe haven in the country». (9)

The African Union is not unanimous in its attitude towards the new government of the Central African Republic. No matter there is a ban on his movement, Michel Djotodia, the former rebel leader, has already visited a number of states (Burkina Faso, Benin, Gabon, Sudan, Chad, and Equatorial Guinea). Besides, the junta leaders have invited the heads of Central African Economic and Monetary Union for a summit.

The prosecutor of the world’s first permanent court set up to try those accused of genocide and war crimes today voiced her deep concern about the worsening security situation in the Central African Republic and reports of serious crimes being committed there. “My office will do its part in investigating and prosecuting those most responsible for the commission of serious crimes, if necessary”, Fatou Bensouda, Prosecutor for the International Criminal Court (ICC), said in a statement. (One should take into consideration the specifics of tropical Africa as a whole and the Central African Republic in particular: the children under the age of 14 years old make up a half of the country’s population). (10) It is a surprise that an International Criminal Court’s prosecutor calls on the international community to help Central Africa provide security. It looks she is not aware of the obvious fact that those who call themselves “the government” now, are the very ones who do commit the crimes the prosecutor is to investigate! It gives rise to expectations that somebody else, not the Seleca rebel coalition and its leaders, is going to be the one to be accused. There are many options, including South Africa. Its soldiers were in the country upon the request of the ousted government led by President François Bozizé, who had to flee. Allegedly they killed a few civilians. Or (what’s even more probable) the charges could be brought on those who tried to stand up to the country’s total destruction and creation of an Islamic state.

The International Criminal Court may exercise its jurisdiction only when national courts are unwilling or unable to investigate or prosecute crimes. Appropriate evidence should be produced. That’s what has already been alluded to in the United Nations Security Council. The matter is that this May the new Central African government established a national crime inquiry commission to investigate human rights violations and the crimes committed since 2004. According to the United Nations, the inquiry does not meet the standards as an independent and impartial investigative body, so the establishment of international inquiry commission is needed. There is a certain background. The International Criminal Court has just begun hearings on the charges against Jean-Pierre Bemba Gombo – a former vice-president of Congo, rebel leader, and leader of Congo’s main opposition party. Bemba and his troops were invited to intervene in the Central African Republic in 2002 by the then-president Ange-Félix Patassé to help put down a coup. According to the testimony provided by new witnesses for defense, the crimes allegedly committed by Bemba were really committed by the rebels under the command of General François Bozizé (the very same person who overthrew Patassé, no matter the support the Bemba-led forces provided him with, and who, in his turn, was overthrown by the rebels, who seized the capital this March).

The “failed state” concept has been given a boost to be advanced recently. By and large, it has become a kind of pattern to introduce outside rule in the states of Africa. Somalia, The Democratic Republic of Congo, Guiney-Bissau, Mali, now the Central African Republic – they are all the examples of creating political offshores as safe havens for international criminal organizations, including terrorist groups. The Central African coup actually took place right after the mopping up operation against the Al Qaeda forces in Mali. Now the elimination of one political offshore haven will automatically trigger the creation of another one.


Notes:

(1) It happens each time a coup takes place in the CAR during the last fifty years. More in detail: A. Mezyaev, Central African Intrigue: http://www.fondsk.ru /news/2013 /04/ 03/ centralno afrikan skaya -intriga- 19864.html
(2) Assistant Secretary-General for Human Rights Ivan Šimonović on human rights, August 14, 2013, the United Nations Security Council // UN Document: S/PV.7017. С.7-8.
(3) The Babacar Gaye’s report, UN Security Council session, August 14 2013//UN Document: S/PV.7017.
(4) Verbatim record, UN Security Council session, August 14, 2013, page.6.
(5) More often mentioned as the Organization Islamic Conference (the name was changed in June 2011).
(6) Christians make up a half of the country’s population (50% – Catholics and 50% Protestants). 35% belong to traditional African religions..
(7) The situation in Uganda and, in particular the Kony’s case, was accepted for consideration by International Criminal Court as far back as in January 2004.
(8) The United Nations Secretary General’s report on the Central African Republic//UN Document: S/2013/470 on August 5, 2013, p.5-6.
(9) The United Nations Security Council, August 14, 2013 session verbatim record, pages 8-9.
(10) The children under 14 make up the 42% of the country’s population. Recalling the internationally recognized definition of the term «a child» (the people under the age of 18), the children represent around 70% of the Central African Republic’s population.


Related:
Africa: From Failed Index To Aid At Gunpoint
The West Aims To Turn The Entire Global South Into A Failed State

Memo to the International Criminal Court: Put Up or Shut Up About Not Targeting Africans

Is the International Criminal Court guilty of “international racial profiling”? The ICC has managed to indict only Africans for crimes against humanity, “while ignoring numerous civilian deaths caused by U.S. air strikes in Afghanistan and other crimes committed by non-Africans.

By Mark P. Fancher

“It is important to determine the U.S. role, if any, in the commission of these crimes.”

The U.S. military has been blamed for training Congolese soldiers who raped scores of civilians in the little village of Minova. As a consequence the prosecutor for the International Criminal Court (ICC) now has a new opportunity to dispel the widely-held belief that the court’s mission is to target only Africans and to ignore the crimes of imperialists. Many would likely be shocked if the ICC prosecutor were to investigate and interrogate any U.S. military personnel who trained the soldiers who committed the rapes.

The ICC was presumably established to pierce the sovereign shields that have historically protected soldiers and government officials – including heads of state – from efforts to hold them individually responsible for genocide, crimes against humanity, war crimes and criminal aggression. The fantasy of a U.S. president standing before the court having to answer for imperialist crimes may never become reality. That’s because unless a country has signed on to the “Rome Statute” (the treaty that created the International Criminal Court) that country is usually beyond the court’s reach.

President Clinton had reservations about the court, but he nevertheless took the first step toward signing on. President Bush later withdrew from the court altogether. Since then, the International Criminal Court has indicted a substantial number of African government officials while ignoring numerous civilian deaths caused by U.S. air strikes in Afghanistan and other crimes committed by non-Africans. Some have characterized this as international racial profiling, and it has caused considerable resentment throughout Africa.

“It has been reported that the soldiers were drunk and openly planning to engage in mass rape.”

Acknowledgment that the U.S. provided training to soldiers involved in the wanton, mass rapes adds another dimension to these crimes. A special United Nations human rights report says that at least 135 women were sexually assaulted by members of Congo’s army as troops fled from a battle with the M23 rebel group. Reuters news service quoted a U.N. official as saying: “We do know in the U.N. which are the two battalions [involved in the rapes]. Interestingly, one of them was trained by the Americans – that’s what the American ambassador himself told me.” It has been reported that U.S. Africa Command (AFRICOM) also acknowledged that the U.S. trained a Congolese light infantry battalion in 2010.

The UN report says: “Some of the human rights violations documented in this report may, as a result of their type and nature constitute war crimes and crimes against humanity as defined by Articles 7 and 8 of the Rome Statute…” It remains to be seen whether there will be an ICC investigation of these crimes, and if so whether it will delve into the U.S. connection.

If Congolese soldiers are prosecuted, it is important to determine the U.S. role, if any, in the commission of these crimes, even if the prosecutor concludes that in this case the U.S. is not subject to ICC jurisdiction. This is because Article 28 of the Rome Statute provides in relevant part that a military commander “or person effectively acting as a military commander shall be criminally responsible for crimes…committed by forces under his or her effective command and control…as a result of his or her failure to exercise control properly over such forces…”

“An honest criminal investigation demands at a minimum that AFRICOM answer questions about a battalion that it trained.”

The court’s perspective on these crimes could be significantly affected by evidence of what these soldiers were ordered to do – or not do. It has been reported that the soldiers were drunk and openly planning to engage in mass rape. Were AFRICOM advisors on the ground with the troops, and did they know any of this? If so, did soldiers infer from the conduct of these advisors or other commanders that there was a green light to commit the crimes?

It may well be that AFRICOM personnel were nowhere near the scene of the crimes, and they had no direct knowledge of what happened. But an honest criminal investigation demands at a minimum that AFRICOM answer questions about a battalion that it trained. If AFRICOM personnel were not on the ground monitoring these troops, given past experiences with trainees and client soldiers who have gone rogue in Mali, Libya and elsewhere, U.S. military advisors should have known the risks of leaving such soldiers unattended. An impartial prosecutor should be willing to ask these hard questions without fear or hesitation. The Obama administration, which claims that it has moved the U.S. from hostility to “positive engagement” with the ICC should be willing to allow military personnel to answer the prosecutor’s questions.

In response to the pointed assertion that the ICC will not try British prime ministers or U.S. presidents, ICC prosecutor Fatou Bensouda said: “…our job is not to violate the due processes of law or to pick on individuals, as to who to prosecute or who not to prosecute. The office of the prosecutor is there for all the 121 States Parties, acting in full independence and impartiality.” If that is true, it’s time to put up or shut up. Even if in the end there is a determination in this case that an indictment of U.S. military personnel is not legally permissible, there are many Africans who would find it gratifying to – for at least one time – see AFRICOM confronted, interrogated, publicly exposed and made to squirm.

Mark P. Fancher is an attorney who writes frequently about armed conflicts in Africa. He can be contacted at mfancher@comcast.net.

Libyan Rebels and International Criminal Court (ICC) Battle Over Seif al-Islam

Son and heir-apparent to Gaddafi still held by militias after nearly two years

By Abayomi Azikiwe
Libya 360°

A disagreement between the International Criminal Court (ICC) and the current Libyan government has highlighted the crises that have worsened during the post-Gaddafi era in the North African state of Libya. Seif al-Islam Gaddafi, the son of the martyred leader of Libya, has been held nearly two years by a militia group in Zintan in the western region of the country.

Seif was captured after the United States and NATO supported rebels had seized control of the capital of Tripoli and the city of Sirte, which held out for eight months against rebel attacks and a massive bombing campaign that resulted in 26,000 sorties and 9,600 airstrikes between March 19 and October 31 of 2011. In addition to Seif al-Islam, thousands of people are still being held illegally inside the country.

During the course of the war against Libya, the ICC initiated a perfunctory “investigation” into alleged human rights violations and crimes against humanity. The charges which resulted from these ICC activities were related to the Libyan government’s defense against the western-backed rebels and the U.S.-NATO airstrikes which caused an estimated 50,000-100,000 deaths and the displacement of two million Libyans and foreign nationals.

Libya prior to the war had the most prosperous state in Africa with living standards that rivaled those in western industrialized states. The political system of Jamahiriya, which was based on local governing councils, provided food, housing, land, medical services and education as part of the social rights inherited by the Libyan people.

Today, since the toppling of the previous government, Libya has become a source of instability and economic underdevelopment both domestically and regionally. Armed militias roam the cities and countryside carrying out atrocities against civilians.

With the failure of the General National Congress (GNC), the new political system inside the country, to provide security and social services to the majority of the Libyan people, it will be impossible for Seif al-Islam to receive any semblance of justice relying on the almost non-existent criminal justice structures. Access to legal advice, bond hearings and a reasonable method of determining the legitimacy of the charges being brought against Seif al-Islam and other political prisoners inside Libya is completely absent.

Even during 2012, when a delegation of ICC legal observers visited Seif al-Islam who was being held by the militia, several of their personnel were detained by the rebels. It was only through international pressure that these individuals were released.

ICC Orders Rebel Government to Handover Seif al-Islam

After determining that the legal and political system in Libya cannot provide the necessary resources for a trial, the ICC has demanded that the GNC and the militia group holding Seif al-Islam hand him over to the international body based in The Hague. The GNC government in Libya has rejected this decision and has launched an appeal against the entire process.

“We will give what is needed to convince the ICC that Libya is capable of conducting a fair trial in accordance with international standards,” Justice Minister Salah al-Marghani told the official GNC news agency. “Libya will appeal the decision … A team of Libyan and international experts is working on preparing the appeal.” (Telegraph, UK, June 3)

This challenge by the post-Gaddafi regime in Libya is taking place at the same time that the African Union (AU) recently condemned the role that the ICC is playing on the continent. At the AU Jubilee Summit in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia in May, a draft resolution was discussed which would have called for the withdrawal of African states from the Rome Statute, the document which provided the legal basis for the creation of the ICC.

What eventually was agreed upon at the AU Summit was, in the case of Kenya, that the ICC should remand the case back to Nairobi for resolution. AU Commission Chair, Dr. Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma, stated that since Kenya had adopted a new constitution and held internationally-supervised elections, then the country should be allowed to address the charges brought by the ICC against President Uhuru Kenyatta and Deputy President William Ruto.

Charges against President Kenyatta and Deputy President Ruto stemmed from the post-election violence in Kenya during 2007-2008 where over 1,000 people were killed. Both Kenyatta and Ruto have pledged to cooperate with the ICC which has refused to drop the charges or follow the recommendations from the AU Summit.

The New York-based group Human Rights Watch (HRW), which also played a role in attempts to isolate the Libyan government under Gaddafi, issued a statement supporting the ICC position saying that the GNC regime should abide by their wishes. However, HRW has said very little about the gross human rights violations being carried out by the western-backed regime in Tripoli or the imperialist states that routinely abuse civilians in Afghanistan, Yemen, Somalia and Pakistan.

Both the ICC and the GNC regime in Libya have no right to place Seif al-Islam on trial.

The ICC is clearly biased against African governments and rebel leaders who are their sole pre-occupation. It is the role of the ICC in Africa through its attacks against the leaders of Sudan, Libya and Kenya that has drawn such harsh criticism by the AU.

Imperialist leaders and their allies have not been targeted for investigation or prosecution by the ICC despite all of the well-documented war crimes and crimes against humanity committed by the U.S., Britain, France, Israel and various NATO states. The ICC has been utilized to bolster imperialist aims and objectives internationally and this is being carried out while the U.S. and other western states are not even signatories to the Rome Statute and are therefore exempt from review by the ICC.

The only real just settlement of the legal crises in Libya would come from a popular movement for the removal of the current regime and the holding of internationally-monitored elections where a government of the people could be created. Since the war in 2011, those loyal to the Jamahiriya have been banned from the political process.

Within the new political dispensation even those who were former members of the Gaddafi government have been forced to resign by legislative action that was prompted by armed actions from various rebel militias. Even though these individuals had long turned their backs on the Libyan people and joined the counter-revolution sponsored by the U.S. and NATO, they have still been forced to leave any positions of putative authority inside the country.

Short of a people’s revolution in Libya, Seif al-Islam and the thousands of other political prisoners should be released and given an option to take up residence in a third country where their safety could be ensured. The western-backed GNC rebels are actively hunting down former members of the Gaddafi government who have taken refuge in Niger, Mauritania, Egypt, South Africa and other African states.

The political atmosphere inside Libya is turning violently against the U.S.-backed GNC forces. Attacks have been carried out against the U.S. compound in Benghazi last September as well as other diplomatic outposts from the Western European nations that participated in the overthrow of the Gaddafi government in 2011.

Developments in Libya illustrate clearly the bankruptcy of U.S. and NATO foreign policy in Africa. The imperialists have nothing to offer the people of Africa and other parts of the world except poverty, internal divisions, political chaos and perpetual insecurity and war.


Abayomi Azikiwe
is the editor of Pan-African News Wire , an international electronic press service designed to foster intelligent discussion on the affairs of African people throughout the continent and the world. The press agency was founded in January of 1998 and has published thousands of articles and dispatches in newspapers, magazines, journals, research reports, blogs and websites throughout the world. The PANW represents the only daily international news source on pan-african and global affairs. To contact him, click on this link >> Email

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Inability and Due Process in the Saif Gaddafi Admissibility Judgment
Viva Libya Saif Al Islam Gaddafi File And Appeal

African Union 21st Summit Threatens Withdrawal From the International Criminal Court (ICC)

Heads-of-state meet in Ethiopia to commemorate jubilee anniversary of the OAU

By Abayomi Azikiwe
Libya 360°

Over fifty member-states of the continental organization the African Union concluded its 21st Summit in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia on May 27. The regional grouping was commemorating the 50th anniversary of the formation of the Organization of African Unity (OAU) which has its origins at the height of the anti-colonial struggle during 1963.

Perhaps one of the most significant developments at this year’s summit was a draft resolution to withdraw the AU members countries from participation in the International Criminal Court (ICC) based in The Hague. Many African states are signatories of the Rome Statue which established the ICC.

However, the implementation of the ICC mandate to investigate and prosecute governmental and non-governmental organizations has been exclusively directed against heads-of-state and rebel groups on the African continent. The ICC has over the last several years been described as the “African Criminal Court” since the leaders of Sudan, Libya and Kenya have been indicted while the presidents and other officials from the imperialist states of the West have never been cited in potential criminal proceeding.

Ethiopian Prime Minister Hailemariam Desalegn speaking to the international press during the concluding sessions of the AU stated that “The International Criminal Court is targeting Africans on a racial basis. African leaders have come to a consensus that the (ICC) process that has been conducted in Africa has a flaw.” (BBC, May 27)

The Ethiopian leader who is now the rotating chair of the AU noted that “The intention was to avoid any kind of impunity… but now the process has degenerated to some kind of race hunting.” The resolution which passed on the final day of the summit called for the investigation and possible criminal indictments related to the situation in Kenya should be sent back for consideration in the East African state.

President Uhuru Kenyatta and Vice-President William Ruto are facing indictments by the ICC for alleged “crimes against humanity” during unrest in the aftermath of the previous national elections in Kenya during 2007-2008. Over 1,000 people were reportedly killed in the fighting between supporters of former candidates Mwai Kibaki and Raila Odinga.

The situation in Kenya was resolved when an international peacekeeping mission led by African leaders and elders negotiated the establishment of a coalition government resulting in the presidency of Kibaki and premiership of Odinga. Elections held in March brought about the ascendancy of Uhuru Kenyatta who defeated Odinga in the first round of the poll.

Political violence in the aftermath of the recent elections in Kenya was minimal. The regional and continental African organizations all recognized the elections in Kenya as being free and fair.

African Union Commission (AUC) chairperson Dr. Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma told the international press on May 27 that since Kenya had adopted a new constitution the remanding of the charges against Kenyatta and Ruto would be appropriate and satisfactory to the people of the country and the African continent as a whole. “Now that Kenya has reformed its judiciary and Kenyans have confidence in their judiciary system, things should be left to that country.” (panapress, May 27)

The ICC has also indicted President Omar Hassan al-Bashir of the Republic of Sudan for the government’s efforts to defend the sovereignty of the country in the Darfur region where a number of rebel organizations have been waging war against the state for a decade. In addition, during the initial phase of the imperialist war of regime-change against the North African state of Libya, the martyred former leader Col. Muammar Gaddafi, along with two other officials, including his son Seif al-Islam, were indicated by the ICC for alleged crimes committed while fighting against an imperialist onslaught on their country.

Other Resolutions Passed on Development Issues

The resolutions passed by the AU in Addis Ababa have been described as forward looking. A decision was made to develop goals to be carried out over the next five decades called Africa 2063.

In addition, a 2014-2017plan was also adopted to deal with short-term objectives. Dlamini-Zuma said during the concluding press conference that 2063 “is a timeline we have set for our children and grandchildren to see what Africa would have achieved in trade, in industrialization, in infrastructure and development in general.

“If you plan for five years, you don’t have a long vision of where you want to be,” she said. “As our founding fathers planned for the future regarding independence, we have to think about the economic sovereignty of this continent.” (panapress, May 27)

Dlamini-Zuma also pointed out that the questions of internal destabilization must be addressed seriously. “We also looked at issues of peace and security. We believe that sooner than later the guns should be silenced on our continent. Dialogue must continue so that parties in conflict do not take up arms,” she emphasized.

The Need for an African Standby Force Discussed

Another important issue involving the African Union is the question of imperialist military interventions. Since 2011 several states have been attacked and governments have been overthrown by western states in Libya and Ivory Coast while France and the United States has intervened in various forms in Somalia, Mali and Niger.

The U.S. Africa Command (AFRICOM) has grown during the administration of President Barack Obama. In December, Obama pledged to send 3,500 Special Forces and military trainers to nearly three dozen states throughout the continent.

Also under Obama the escalation of drone usage and the placing of Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) field offices have accelerated in Africa. Obama announced recently that he will travel to at least three states in Africa later this year while Secretary of State John Kerry made a brief visit to the AU Summit in Addis Ababa.

During the AU Summit, the French government announced that it was conducting a partial withdrawal of its forces which have been occupying Mali since January. Nonetheless, some 3,700 French troops still officially remain inside the West African country until the end of 2013. Even after the end of this year, the French defense ministry says it will keep 1,000 troops on the ground in Mali.

On May 23-24, a series of attacks in Niger resulted in the deaths of over two dozen Nigerien troops at an army barracks and at an Areva uranium mining facility that is owned by France. Paris immediately announced that an undisclosed number of its Special Forces were operating in pursuit of the Signatories in Blood and the Movement for Oneness and Jihad in West Africa who claimed joint responsibility for the attacks.

There was further discussion on the development of an African Standby Force to address conflicts taking place across the continent. France and the U.S. have used the instability in Ivory Coast, Somalia, Niger and Libya as a rationale for military interventions.

African Union Security Commissioner Ramtane Lamamra told the international media that a force of some 32,500 troops will be developed for deployment in case of emergencies. At present only regional forces are in existence and there are serious problems associated with their capacity to respond rapidly to internal and cross border conflicts.

“This is meant as an interim measure pending the full operationalization of the African standby force,” Lamamra told reporters at the AU headquarters in the Ethiopian capital.

“In the meantime, crises, unconstitutional changes of government, massive violations of human rights are likely to happen here and there, so from a responsible point of view, we say we cannot wait until we get a perfect tool to be used.”

Until Africa comes to grips with foreign interference in its internal affairs real development, economic independence and sovereignty will remain elusive. The growing military involvement of the imperialist states is providing the political imperative for these critical challenges to be addressed.

Abayomi Azikiwe
is the editor of Pan-African News Wire , an international electronic press service designed to foster intelligent discussion on the affairs of African people throughout the continent and the world. The press agency was founded in January of 1998 and has published thousands of articles and dispatches in newspapers, magazines, journals, research reports, blogs and websites throughout the world. The PANW represents the only daily international news source on pan-african and global affairs. To contact him, click on this link >> Email

Newly-Elected Kenyan President Forced to Stand Trial by the ICC

Kenyatta requests charges be dropped in The Hague

By Abayomi Azikiwe
Libya 360°

Known on the continent as the “African Criminal Court” due to its exclusive indictments, prosecution and persecution of regional leaders, the International Criminal Court (ICC) has refused to drop charges against President Uhuru Kenyatta. Kenyatta was elected by over 50 percent of the people in his country during internationally-supervised polls in early March.

Despite threats from the United States and Britain toward the Kenyan people, the electorate defied the two leading world imperialist countries by placing Kenyatta in office. Kenyatta, 51, is the son of Kenya’s first president and nationalist leader, Jomo Kenyatta, who was a staunch ally of Washington and London during the 1960s and 1970s.

Nonetheless, in the modern period, the imperialist states are bent on total control of political developments in Africa. The U.S. State Department’s top African envoy, Johnnie Carson, has warned the Kenyan electorate that if Kenyatta won the race against former Prime Minister Raila Odinga, that there would be a price to pay.

A similar tone was set by Britain when the Foreign Office said that if Kenyatta won London would maintain relations at a distance. Although both Britain and the U.S. will not subject their political leaders to international scrutiny, they have consistently utilized the ICC and other special courts in the Netherlands to hound African leaders and the former President of Yugoslavia Slobodan Milosevic who refuse to accept dominance by the West.

The pledge to go ahead with a trial by ICC chief prosecutor Fatou Bansouda came as a surprise to many since Kenyatta’s co-defendant Francis Muthaura had all charges dropped against him resulting from the failure of the principal witness to provide testimony. The two had been accused of financing criminal gangs to attack political opponents in the aftermath of disputed elections during 2007-2008.

Kenyatta and Mathaura both have denied the charges. Kenyatta says that he is willing to defend himself before the ICC.

Bensouda told the press that the situation involving the charges against Kenyatta related to witnesses having been intimidated. She said that “Kenya is the most challenging situation we have ever had to deal with.” (AFP, March 21)

Kenyatta’s lawyer, Steven Kay, stressed that the charges against his client should be dropped since the main witness is refusing to testify. Kay says that based on these developments the case should go back to pre-trial phase to determine whether there is even enough evidence to continue.

“To a certain extent we have lost faith in the decision-making as we warned the pre-trial chamber of the quality of the evidence and we were ignored,” Kay said. Later on March 24, the charges against Kenyatta were revised in an effort to provide a legal rationale for continuing with the prosecution of the president.

ICC Continues Tradition

Other leaders under attack by the ICC include Republic of Sudan President Omar Hassan al-Bashir who has refused to acknowledge or recognize the charges filed under the previous prosecutor. President Bashir says that the charges are designed to destabilize his government and country which is not even a party to the Rome Statue which served as the basis for the creation of the ICC.

Also ousted President Laurent Gbagbo of Ivory Coast is currently facing charges before the ICC as well. Gbagbo was overthrown by France in 2011 because he refused to allow the imperialist states and their allies to determine who should be allowed to hold office in the West African country.

Gbagbo has rejected the charges against him and says that he has always been committed to a democratic process of governance. Ivory Coast, a former French colony, is the largest producer of cocoa in the world.

At present his political party is refusing to participate in the elections scheduled to be held in Ivory Coast where Alassane Ouattara, who was backed by the West, assumed power after French military action led to the overthrow and capture of Gbagbo and his forced exile to the Netherlands.

A Special Tribunal on Sierra Leone prosecuted former Republic of Liberia President Charles Taylor and convicted him in 2012 for involvement in a war in a neighboring country. The special tribunal on Sierra Leone attempted to make a case that blamed Taylor for the proliferation of illegal diamond trading internationally, something that has been in existence for centuries and controlled by various imperialist states.

When the U.S. and NATO waged its war to overthrow Col. Muammar Gaddafi and the Jamahiriya in 2011, the ICC indicted Gaddafi and his son Seif al-Islam. Gaddafi was brutally assassinated at the aegis of the White House on October 20, 2011 and Seif was later captured by western-backed militias who still hold him inside Libya.

Although the ICC says that Seif cannot get a fair trial under the existing regime now running Libya, the same body has not filed charges against the General National Congress which is violating the rights of thousands of Libyans and foreign nationals being held illegally inside the country. A delegation sent to Libya in 2012 to investigate the status of Seif al-Islam was held for several weeks by the same militia forces that have illegally detained Gaddafi’s son.

Nonetheless, no charges were filed in relationship to this situation and many others now plaguing post-Gaddafi Libya. Earlier in March, a relative of Gaddafi was kidnapped in Egypt and threatened with deportation to Libya without any response from the state department.

The stage was set for the convening of such tribunals and courts in the Netherlands with the coup against former Yugoslavian President Milosevic in 2000. After the overthrow of the leader of the socialist government, which had been largely dismembered by wars supported by the U.S. and other imperialist states, he was kidnapped and held in detention in the Netherlands until his death in 2006.

Most of the cases against leaders in The Hague have been done in a way which advances the interests of imperialism. Yet these same western states are never held accountable for the horrendous war crimes carried out in Afghanistan, Panama, Grenada, Iraq, Iran, Yemen, Libya, Somalia, Zimbabwe and Colombia where millions have died over the last three decades.


Abayomi Azikiwe
is the editor of Pan-African News Wire , an international electronic press service designed to foster intelligent discussion on the affairs of African people throughout the continent and the world. The press agency was founded in January of 1998 and has published thousands of articles and dispatches in newspapers, magazines, journals, research reports, blogs and websites throughout the world. The PANW represents the only daily international news source on pan-african and global affairs. To contact him, click on this link >> Email


Also See:

Kenya Elections Provide Opportunities for U.S., British Interventions

Kenya Elections Provide Opportunities for U.S., British Interventions

Uhuru Kenyatta wins while facing charges by the International Criminal Court

By Abayomi Azikiwe
Libya 360°

Deputy Prime Minister Uhuru Kenyatta has won the national presidential elections in the East African nation of Kenya. Kenyatta, the son of the first president of the country, Jomo Kenyatta, has come under fire from International Criminal Court (ICC) as well as the governments of the United States and Britain.

Kenyatta representing The National Alliance Party (TNA) won 50.07 percent of the vote eliminating the need for a run-off vote. His closest rival Raila Odinga, representing the Coalition for Reforms and Democracy (CORD) and the son of Jaramogi Oginga Odinga, a leader as well in the Kenyan liberation movement of the 1950s and 1970s, won 43.2 percent of the vote.

Voter turnout was over 86 percent illustrating the high-level of interest in the poll. Odinga rejected the outcome of the election results and is challenging the electoral commission’s tallies through the courts.

The atmosphere surrounding the elections in Kenya was relative peaceful. Five years ago in the aftermath of the voting, violence erupted between supporters of the run-off candidates Raila Odinga and Mwai Kibaki.

During the unrest in December 2007 and January 2008, some 1,200 people lost their lives. An international team of negotiators from the United Nations and the African Union flew into the country and led talks resulting in the formation of a unity government between Kibaki and Odinga.

This time around both leading candidates have pledged to maintain the peace. Odinga, although challenging the outcome, has said that his opposition to the official results will take place in the courts and not in the streets.

The ICC charges against Kenyatta stem from the unrest in the aftermath of the last election. He is accused of financing and organizing attacks on supporters of Raila Odinga.

The tabulation process for the voting was delayed due to problems associated with a new electronic system. The delay in the results fueled some tensions in the country.

Violence five years ago took on an ethnic character since the majority of supporters of Kibaki were Kikiyu and those of Odinga are Luo. In Kisumu, a stronghold of Odinga, where the violence erupted in December 2007, some began to shout “No Raila, No Peace.”

Nonetheless, Odinga was quoted as saying “Any violence now could destroy this nation forever, but it would not serve anyone interests.” However, he did say that the elections were marked by “rampant illegality” and the electoral process had placed “democracy on trial in Kenya.” ((Reuters, March 9)

Implications for Foreign Interference

Although the Kenyan Supreme Court has stated that it will handle any challenges to the elections fairly and swiftly, the U.S. and Britain have both been accused of using the indictments against Kenyatta and the election results as a leverage to intervene in the internal affairs of the country. Chief Justice Willy Mutunga, who was appointed in 2011, said that “We at the Supreme Court are prepared to hear any petition that may be filed impartially, fairly, justly and without fear, ill-will, favor, prejudice or bias and in accordance with our constitution and our laws.” (Reuters, March 11)

Kenyatta and his running mate, William Ruto, are facing charges before the ICC. Both men have denied the allegations and say that they will work to clear their names.

The fact that the electorate in Kenya voted in favor of Kenyatta is an indication of the rejection of the ICC and the western imperialists’ attempts to influence the voting. Kenyatta accused the British government of trying to shape the outcome of the vote by warning that any contact with his administration would be at a distance.

The U.S. and other imperialist states indicated that a victory by Kenyatta would complicate relations even though Kenya has been a close ally of Washington and London in the neo-colonial war being waged in neighboring Somalia. Kenya has over 2,000 troops in Somalia participating with the African Union Mission to Somalia (AMISOM) which is largely financed by Washington and coordinated through the U.S. Africa Command (AFRICOM).

According to Alex Perry writing in world.time.com, “If the result withstands Odinga’s challenge, a win for Kenyatta would represent the most stunning articulation to date of a renewed mood of self-assertion in Africa. Half a century ago, Africa echoed with the sound of anticolonial liberation. Today, 10 years of dramatic and sustained economic growth and a growing political maturity coinciding with the economic meltdown in the West and political dysfunction in Washington and Europe have granted Africa’s leaders the authority and means to once again challenge intervention on the continent, whether it comes in the form of foreign diplomatic pressure, foreign aid, foreign rights monitors or even foreign correspondents.” (March 9)

Kenyatta said in his victory speech that “Today, we celebrate the triumph of democracy, the triumph of peace, the triumph of nationhood. We expect the international community to respect the sovereignty and democratic will of the people of Kenya. The Africa star is shining brightly and the destiny of Africa is now in our hands.” (March 9)

U.S. Assistant Secretary of State Johnnie Carson said prior to the Kenyan elections that “choices have consequences.” This was designed to influence the outcome of the vote.

The ICC has been severely criticized in Africa due to the fact that all of its indictments are centered on leaders and political figures targeted by the U.S. and other imperialist states. Kenyatta will be the second head of state facing indictments by the court based in The Hague.

Republic of Sudan President Omar Hassan al-Bashir has been under indictment by the ICC for several years. He, too, has rejected the indictments as a tool utilized by western powers against Sudan.

Most states in Africa and the Middle East have ignored the indictments against President Bashir along with the African Union and the Arab League. Bashir has traveled to numerous African and Arab states for international conferences in defiance of the ICC and the western imperialist states, some of whom, like the U.S., are not party to the Rome Statue which established the ICC.

In an editorial published by the Zimbabwe Sunday Mail entitled “Lessons From Kenya’s Elections,” it states that “All indications point to the fact that this election will have far-reaching implications—not just for relations between Kenya and Western governments but also for relations between Western governments and the rest of the African continent. “ (March 10)

This same article goes on to point out that although Oginga Odinga, Raila’s father, was a true patriot of Kenya and Africa, his son is quite different in regard to his political orientation. Raila Odinga has served as a mouthpiece for U.S. imperialist interests in Africa attacking Zimbabwe and other states targeted by Washington.

The Zimbabwe Sunday Mail observes that Odinga “has come across as a puppet of the West, a man not given to independent thinking. Despite enjoying the support of some Western powers and benefitting from the advantages of incumbency, Raila has once again flattered to deceive.”

Noting the significance of the developments in Kenya, The Sunday Mail stresses that “Uhuru Kenyatta’s victory sends a strong message to the bullies in Washington, London, Paris and Brussels that the people of Africa will no longer be intimidated by racist overlords. In spite of the International Criminal Court charges that dangled above his head like the proverbial sword of Damocles, Uhuru has gone on to win a tough election. It is a huge achievement.”

It will be very interesting to see how the Obama administration proceeds in regard to its relations with Kenya. The country’s strategic location and role within the region will continue to make it a focal point for Washington’s involvement.


Abayomi Azikiwe
is the editor of Pan-African News Wire , an international electronic press service designed to foster intelligent discussion on the affairs of African people throughout the continent and the world. The press agency was founded in January of 1998 and has published thousands of articles and dispatches in newspapers, magazines, journals, research reports, blogs and websites throughout the world. The PANW represents the only daily international news source on pan-african and global affairs. To contact him, click on this link >> Email

Also See:
Newly-Elected Kenyan President Forced to Stand Trial by the ICC

ICC: The Empire’s Court

DRC and ICC: New Developments

Rwandese and Congolese to the ICC: Indict Kagame

The African Union, Sudan and the ICC

INTERNATIONAL LAW IS THE LAW OF THE VICTORS

Editor’s Note:
Read The Full Article Here >>

The following statement was made in the Special Court for Sierra Leone by Judge Sow following the announcement of Charles Taylor’s sentence:

“The only moment where a Judge can express his opinion is during the deliberations or in the courtroom, and, pursuant to the Rules, when there are no serious deliberations, the only place left for me is the courtroom. For me under any mode of liability, under any accepted standard of proof, the guilt of the accused from the evidence provided in this trial is not proved beyond reasonable doubt by the Prosecution. And my only worry is that the whole system is not consistent with all the principles we know and love, and the system is not consistent with all the values of international criminal justice.”

Every effort was made to prevent his statement from being heard, shutting off court microphones as soon as he utterred his first words. Fortunately there were members of the press present who were able to hear him and his damning indictment of the ICC’s flagrant mockery of the Rule of Law.

[For those who would like to review the entire Taylor trial documents, Ms. Evelyne Schmid from the Bangor University in Wales has converted the 2,499 page non-searchable PDF into a searchable text file.]

Reason Wafawarova reminds us again that the ICC serves imperialist interests exclusively and that the victors of imperialist wars enjoy complete immunity from criminal prosecution, while the “losers” are shown no mercy.

Alexandra Valiente
Editor of Libya 360° and Viva Libya!

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