Abayomi Azikiwe, editor of the Pan-African News Wire, featured on Press TV News Analysis discussing the rising tension between North Sudan and South Sudan on April 19, 2012. Azikiwe reviewed the history of this African state and the role of imperialism., a photo by Pan-African News Wire File Photos on Flickr.
The African Union, Sudan and the ICC
Summit forced to move because of attendance by President Omar al-Bashir
By Abayomi Azikiwe
Editor, Pan-African News Wire
May 25 marked the tenth anniversary of the formation of the African Union (AU), a continental organization designed to foster greater unity and development. The AU was transformed from the Organization of African Unity (OAU) which was established in 1963 at the height of the independence movement against European colonialism.
This year’s AU Summit was scheduled to take place in the Southern African state of Malawi but has been re-located to Ethiopia, its headquarters. The continued imperialist intervention into the internal affairs of the African continent has resulted in a controversy over the possible attendance of Sudanese President Omar Hassan al-Bashir.
Bashir is under indictment by the International Criminal Court (ICC) stemming from his government’s efforts to suppress a revolt by several rebel groups in the Darfur region. The African Union has rejected the indictments by the ICC saying they serve as an impediment to the peaceful resolution of the conflict.
President Bashir has attended all African Union meetings since the indictments were handed down by the ICC because the continental organization has refused to allow this Netherlands-based entity to dictate the relationships between various member-states. An AU meeting was held in Malawi two years ago which was hosted by the former President Bingu wa Mutharika who passed away earlier in 2012.
Malawi’s new head-of-state, Joyce Banda, says that she must rebuild relations with donors who contribute to the government of the country, one of Africa’s least developed. Former President Mutharika defied Britain and the United States by hosting Bashir as well as refusing to accept conditions required by the imperialist countries in exchange for financial assistance.
Toward the end of Mutharika’s life Malawi came under tremendous pressure. After foreign aid vanished and sanctions were imposed, rebellions erupted within the country.
Banda, who is the country’s first woman president, and only the second among all governments on the continent, has begun by announcing that she would decriminalize same-sex relationships, a point which was a source for criticism under the previous regime of Mutharika. Although this effort seems progressive on the surface, with it being followed by the refusal to host the leader of a significant state on the continent indicates that the imperialists are still attempting to exert powerful influence on the affairs of the African Union.
Banda was straight forward in explaining her rationale for not wanting Bashir to attend the AU meeting in Lilongwe. Nonetheless, the fact that African governments must compromise their obligations within the leading regional organization to curry favor with the West speaks volumes in regard to the ongoing program of imperialism to prevent principled unity among AU members.
The ICC and African Affairs
The ICC grew out of the so-called Rome Statue which was signed in 1998 by numerous states throughout the world. The court is ostensibly set up to hold heads-of-state and organizations outside of government to standards of international law.
Nonetheless, all of the states that have been targeted by the ICC are on the African continent. Irrespective of the grave war crimes and other violations of human rights carried out by the U.S., NATO and the European Union, none have been investigated let alone indicted by the ICC.
This is why the ICC has been labeled by many people as the “African Criminal Court.” In addition to the president of Sudan, the former leader of Libya, Col. Muammar Gaddafi, had also been targeted by the ICC during the imperialist war of regime change that resulted in his assassination.
At present the ICC is in Libya to investigate the prosecution of Seif al-Islam, the son of Gaddafi and his heir apparent. Seif al-Islam is also under ICC indictment however, the court is not demanding that he be immediately extradited to the Netherlands.
During early June, four members of the ICC delegation visiting Libya were detained by the National Transitional Council (NTC) rebel regime that was installed by the U.S. and NATO between August and October of 2011. Although this is a violation of international law there has been no outcry on the part of the White House or NATO in regard to the detention of these ICC members in Libya.
Other Netherlands-based special courts are active in selectively prosecuting political leaders. Former Liberian leader Charles Taylor was recently convicted and sentenced to a long prison term by a tribunal examining the war in Sierra Leone during the 1990s and early 2000s.
Yet another tribunal has indicted and prosecuted leaders from the former Yugoslavia. These cases involve actions related to a civil war where the imperialist states played a leading role in fomenting discord.
African governments must strive to maintain their genuine independence and sovereignty and reject western attempts to intervention in their internal affairs. Despite the fact that the U.S. and other leading imperialist states are not signatories to the Rome Statute, they often utilize the ICC as a weapon against states that are deemed enemies to the ruling class, the Pentagon and the White House.
Important Issues Require Attention
This year’s AU Summit must take up a series of challenges and political crises. The military coups in Mali and Guinea-Bissau are leading among agenda items.
Inside Mali, the country has been virtually partitioned with the seizure of northern towns by Tuareg rebels from several organizations. In Guinea-Bissau a national election was thwarted in the aftermath of a military seizure of power.
Across the Sahel there is drought and famine, most of which is related to the ongoing political instability fostered by U.S. and NATO interference in the internal affairs of Libya, Somalia, Sudan, Ethiopia, Kenya and other states. The newly partitioned Sudan, where the South broke away in 2011 to form an independent state, has seen the escalation of tensions over territorial disputes and oil revenues.
In Somalia, the U.S.-backed Transitional Federal Government (TFG) along with the African Union Mission to Somalia (AMISOM) and the Kenyan Defense Forces (KDF) are waging a ground war against the Al-Shabaab Islamic resistance organization. The U.S. is carrying out drone attacks on a regular basis in Somalia which has resulted in the deaths of hundreds of civilians.
The U.S. Africa Command (AFRICOM) is becoming more aggressive on the continent and as a result, more demands will be made on various governments to cooperate fully with its military actions. After the overthrow of the government in Libya, other states and organizations are being targeted by the Pentagon for regime-change and liquidation.
Until the African continent can break with imperialism the problems of food deficits, internal conflict and underdevelopment will continue. Political unity in Africa must be based on the conditions within the continent itself as well as the imperative of maintaining and honoring the sovereignty of various nation-states and regional organizations.