Sat, Jul 04, 2009 - Page 6 News List

African Authority takes shape in AU

MORPH: A draft adopted by African heads of state after 15 hours of talks is aimed at simplifying the AU and boosting its power over defense, diplomacy and trade matters


In consequence, the draft provides that AU countries “shall not cooperate” with the ICC “for the arrest and surrender” of African indicted personalities. But officials say this wording was later changed by the ministers behind closed doors to specifically mention Sudan’s al-Bashir, rather than all African personalities.

Still, if adopted by heads of states, the common ruling could be a powerful blow to prosecuting African officials for war crimes.

Several African leaders appeared to strongly resist the draft decision.

“Certainly that’s not the ­position that we take,” Ghana’s Foreign Minister Muhammad Mumuni told reporters.

“For us in Ghana there is absolutely no equivocation at all about our acceptance and respect for the jurisdiction, the integrity and high honor of dignity of the ICC,” he said.

But, Mumuni added, Ghana supports the AU’s call to postpone the “ill-timed” ICC warrant against al-Bashir, which he said imperiled peace efforts in Sudan and could create “a huge power vacuum.”

Ghana is among 30 African countries that are party to the international court. Reed Brody, a spokesman for Human Rights Watch, said the draft decision “basically orders them to flout their legal obligations.”

The draft appeared to contradict assurances by the AU’s executive chairman, Jean Ping, that the AU would not reach hard decisions against the ICC.

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