African Union (AU) leaders meeting in Addis-Ababa, Ethiopia, over the weekend have defied the controversial International Criminal Court (ICC), by launching an ‘aggressive’ counter-attack which some observers believe might change the course of the so-called witchhunt currently going on against some of the continent’s political leaders.
The AU said it will set up a contact group of its executive council to undertake consultations with members of the United Nations Security Council (UNSC), in particular its five permanent members.
This, it said, with a view to engaging with the UNSC on all its concerns on its relationship with the ICC.
“This should be done before the expected beginning of the trial of the Kenyan President at the ICC,” the AU said in a statement, adding that if the request does not get a response, a deferral of the trial should be done.
Furthermore, in a move said to generate a heated showdown with the ICC, AU leaders said no serving AU head of state or government or anybody acting or entitled to act in such a capacity, shall be required to appear before any international court or tribunal during their term of office.
This was vital to safeguard the constitutional order, stability and integrity of member states, the leaders said.
Sudanese President Omar al-Bashir is currently the world’s most wanted head of state, as the ICC desperately wants him to answer charges of genocide and massive violations of human rights allegedly committed in the troubled Darfur region.
Kenya’s Vice-President William Ruto has already appeared in the Netherlands-based court in connection with his country’s post-electoral violence of 2007-2008. His case continues.
But many AU leaders believe this is nothing but some sort of a ‘witchhunt’ being orchestrated by the West to target African leaders.
This week Rwandan President Paul Kagame criticised the ICC for what he called its ‘selective justice’ approach.
The ball is now in the ‘other guys’ court’ to respond to these demands, or face the African macabre music. Some analysts said the showdown between the two institutions is only beginning.
Watch this space and watch it carefully!
Photo: Sudan President Omar al-Bashir, one of the world’s most wanted men.