The just ended African Union Commission summit in Libya would best be remembered for its decision to end all cooperation with the International Criminal Court as far as the arrest and surrender of any African indicted personality is concerned.
The resolution and its acceptance left many bewildered as to what its in fact giving an open check to leaders to go ahead to violate the rights of the people they rule. It is not difficult to trace the origin of the resolution or what its intention was.
Without being a detective, it could be traced to the Court’s warrant issued for the arrest of Sudanese President Omar el-Bashir on alleged human rights charges emanating from the conflict in Darfur.
The African Union has been dodgy over its commitment even since the warrant was made public with many countries hiding behind the cloak of sovereignty and urging that arrest warrant should be held up for a year before being enforced.
Quite some few countries as Botswana had taken the stout stand that the arrest warrant on el-Bashir should be enforced regardless of the odds. The argument that the Court has indicted 14 peoples so far-all of them African pales in the arena when put on the slide.
As a political commentator once said, if it is African leaders that have suppressed the rights of the people they govern, what’s the bid deal that they should not be accountable for their deeds.
When one takes a retrospective view of what has been ongoing in Darfur, the hundreds of rapes, killing and plunders undertaken by the Janjaweed militias not to even focus on the hundreds of thousands languishing in refugee camps in Chad and neighbouring countries, these activities pale if the Sudanese authorities should not be accountable for it all.
What is now prevalent is that the Sudanese leader has been absolved of what is going on in Darfur. The resolution would only strengthen his resolve to make less haste to sort out the debacle.
Other African leaders would equally pick up the cue that we have our backers in the Presidents club who would work to nullify whatever ills we do to our people. Former UN Secretary-General Kofi Annan no doubt saw it all coming as he warned weeks before the summit that African leaders should pinpoint the misdeeds of their colleagues and not wrap them up in foils.
The resolution undoubtedly has left the rank-and-file African look like unprotected straw in the wind. The political picture it has left is now built on the suspicion that African leaders are working out a chant to protect themselves against all odds and all evens.
Nothing happens without a cause, they say and if human rights violations were not taking place, there would not have been the need to set up the International Criminal Court in the first place.
What is being done now is to paint the court as being anti-African and biased. Whatever is the score, the existence of the Court should be enough to make African leaders watch their ways and not, in the local proverbs in the Central African Republic, “holding the feet of politicians close to the fire.”