Africa’s Journal

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African leaders should support al-Bashir arrest, says Tutu

Posted by africasjournal on March 4, 2009

artelbashirgi

NEW YORK, UNITED STATES Mar 03 2009 13:21

African leaders should support a bid to arrest Sudanese President Omar al-Bashir on war-crimes charges, Nobel Peace Prize winner Desmond Tutu wrote in a New York Times editorial on Tuesday.

The retired archbishop said it was “shameful” that so many African leaders have rallied around al-Bashir, who faces a possible arrest warrant from the International Criminal Court on Wednesday over alleged war crimes in Darfur.

If the warrant is granted and an arrest carried out, al-Bashir would become the first sitting head of state to be hauled before the ICC since the court opened in 2002.

“Because the victims in Sudan are African, African leaders should be the staunchest supporters of efforts to see perpetrators brought to account,” wrote Tutu.

“Yet rather than stand by those who have suffered in Darfur, African leaders have so far rallied behind the man responsible for turning that corner of Africa into a graveyard.”

Tutu chastised the African Union for calling on the United Nations Security Council to suspend the court’s proceedings.

“I regret that the charges against President al-Bashir are being used to stir up the sentiment that the justice system — and in particular, the international court — is biased against Africa. Justice is in the interest of victims, and the victims of these crimes are African.

“To imply that the prosecution is a plot by the West is demeaning to Africans and understates the commitment to justice we have seen across the continent.”

An arrest warrant for al-Bashir “would be an extraordinary moment for the people of Sudan”, Tutu wrote.

“African leaders should support this historic occasion, not work to subvert it.” — AFP

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