Tuesday, July 15, 2008

Africa Faces Growing Pressure From the ICC, G8 and the United Nations Security Council

Africa Faces Growing Pressure From the ICC, G8 and the Security Council

Sudanese leader indicted while effort to further isolate Zimbabwe fails in the UN Security Council

by Abayomi Azikiwe, Editor
Pan-African News Wire

In a move which can only be interpreted as an act of war, Sudanese President Omar Hassan al-Bashir was indicted by the International Criminal Court (ICC) on July 14. The charges range from genocide to other alleged crimes against humanity.

This action was announced by Luis Moreno-Ocampo, the chief prosecutor for the ICC. The indictments have received widespread coverage in the global corporate media which has never been favorable to the present government in Sudan.

On the website for the International Criminal Court it says that: "The International Criminal Court (ICC) is an independent, permanent court that tries persons accused of the most serious crimes of international concern, namely genocide, crimes against humanity and war crimes. The ICC is based on a treaty, joined by 106 countries.

"The ICC is a court of last resort. It will not act if a case is investigated or prosecuted by a national judicial system unless the national proceedings are not genuine, for example if formal proceedings were undertaken solely to shield a person from criminal responsibility. In addition, the ICC only tries those accused of the gravest crimes."

The countries which belong to the ICC range from those in Latin America, Europe, Canada, Africa and Asia. The United States is not a member of the court because it rejects the right of any other state or international body to exercise legal sanctions and prosecution against its soldiers or political figures.

In response to the prosecutor's charges, thousands of people in Sudan have gone into the streets to demonstrate against the decision to prosecute President al-Bashir. The indictments imply that a warrant will be issued at some point for his arrest.

Demonstrators in the capital of Khartoum on July 14 chanted "down, down, USA!". They also exclaimed that "with our souls, with our blood, we die for Bashir".

The demonstrators also stated during the protest that: "The ICC does just what the European Union, the United States of America and Israel tells it to do." A statment to this effect was delivered to the United Nations offices in Sudan.

In addition Sudan has proclaimed that this move against its top governmental officials will inevitably sabatoge efforts to reach a lasting peace agreement with rebels based in the western Darfur region of the country. Two senior Sudanese officials told Reuters news agency that they would solicit Chinese, Russian and African support through the United Nations to obstruct the issuing of an arrest warrant for President al-Bashir.

It is possible for the United Nations Security Council to pass a resolution that suspends a warrant issued by the ICC. However, many agree that since al-Bashir has already been mentioned in the indictments, the damage will be done in regard to any potential improvement of relations between Sudan and the Western countries.

On July 12, the African Union said that ICC's threat to prosecute the head of state of Sudan could jeopardize peace efforts in the Darfur region. A statement issued in the aftermath of a meeting at the AU headquarters in Ethiopia through its Peace and Security Council of the continental organization, composed of all African states: "expressed its strong conviction that the search for justice should be pursued in a way that does not impede or jeopardize efforts aimed at promoting lasting peace."

The AU Peace and Security Council stated that it had been advised of the plans to indict the Sudanese leader on July 12 and "reiterated the AU's concern with the misuse of indictments against African leaders."

Also the Peace and Security Council of the AU pointed out that the United Nations Security Council has addressed the issue in a March 2005 resolution which "emphasized the need to promote healing and reconciliation" in the western region of the country.

This action by the ICC, which is based in The Hague, represents the first ever indictment leveled against a sitting head of state.

Other developments surrounding this attempt to prosecute the Sudanese President, saw the Arab League warning on July 12 that the "politicizing" of the International Criminal Court had prompted the call for an emergency summit of Arab foreign ministers to discuss these charges against al-Bashir among member countries.

The spokesperson for the Arab League, Hesham Yussif, said to journalists that Secretary-General Amr Mussa was in close discussions with various foreign ministers throughout the Arab world and Africa in regard to this issue.

During 2007, the ICC judges issued warrants for two other Sudanese officials, the minister Ahmed Harun and the militia commander Ali Kushayb. The government has stated emphatically that it will not hand over these nationals to the ICC.

Meanwhile in China, a senior Sudanese official, Mustafa Ismail, who is a senior advisor to President Omar Hassan al-Bashir, stated that this close ally had done more to bring peace to the country than any other country.

Ismail said to the Xinhua press agency that: "In my opinion, China has played the most positive role in Sudan among countries outside the region. In sharp contrast, some Western countries have been playing up the Darfur issue as a conflict between the Arab and the African groups, to impose pressure on the Sudanese government for their own interests."

Ismail continued by saying that: "To that effect, a number of media outlets in the West have distorted the role of China in the Darfur issue, while some politicians have threatened to boycott the Beijing Olympics. We should know their tactics."

Ismail also mentioned that: "China's achievements in the Sudan peace process stems largely from its pure and transparent motive. China does not have an ulterior motive for being involved in the peace process. It is doing so for peace itself, which has won great trust both from our government and from the Sudan People's Liberation Movement," Ismail said, refering to the leading party in the south of the country that reached a comprehensive peace accord with Khartoum during 2005.

The People's Republic of China has provided over $15 million in humanitarian assistance to Sudan. The Sudanese presidential adviser expressed appreciation for the assistance given by the Chinese government including the 10,000 peacekeeping forces deployed in Darfur, which Ismail claims are "doing a great job by providing technology and experience to the United Naitons-African Union (UN-AU) mission charged with providing humanitarian aid."

Ismail, who is a leading official of the ruling National Congress Party, was in China on a five-day, inter-party visit to Beijing at the invitation of the Communist Party of China. He stated that the Chinese government's involvement "greatly influences the Darfur peace process. We believe the Darfur issue has entered the road to settlement," Ismail said.

Zimbabwe Sanctions Attempt is Double Vetoed

A new round of post-elections destabilization attempts by the Western imperialist countries suffered a monumental defeat when the United States and British sponsored vote to impose additional sanctions against Zimbabwe was double vetoed by Russian and China on July 11.

In an article published in the July 14 issue of the Zimbabwe Herald, the government thanked various countries for their assistance in preventing the passage of such a hostile resolution by the Security Council.

"Deputy Minister of Information and Publicity Bright Matonga hailed China and Russia for vetoing concerted efforts by Britain and the United States to victimise Zimbabwe."

The official also commended Libya, South Africa and Vietnam for "their unreserved support for Zimbabwe."

"We are grateful to our all-weather friends, particularly China and Russia. We thank them wholeheartedly for their continued support and for the work they have done before, during and after independence. They continue to support us even during these difficult times," he said. "We are very greateful for their support."

G8 Summit Pressures African Leaders to Condemn Zimbabwe

At the recently-held summit of leading capitalist countries in Japan, the Western nations invited several heads of state from the African continent including Presidents Thabo Mbeki of the Republic of South Africa and John Kuffour of Ghana.

Despite the questioning of the G8 leaders in regard to the delivery of at least $25 billion promised during the 2005 summit in Scotland, which ostensibly would have provided assistance to various African states for the increase in agricultural production, industrial development and the tackling of various health problems, including the high rates of HIV/AIDS, the capitalist states were mainly concerned about forcing the African representatives to condemn the President and government of Zimbabwe.

After demonstrating resistance and reluctance to these attempts to further threaten Zimbabwe, the G8 leaders issued a special resolution on the situation inside the southern African nation.

The resolution on Zimbabwe reads in part that: "We expressed our grave concern about the situation in Zimbabwe. We deplore the fact that the Zimbabwean authorities pressed ahead with the presidential election despite the absence of appropriate conditions for free and fair voting as a result of their systematic violence, obstruction and intimidation."

Yet this statement refused to acknowledge the work already done by South African President Thabo Mbeki in serving as mediator between the Zimbabwe government and the pro-western opposition Movement for Democratic Change (MDC-T). Talks resumed between the two Zimbabwean parties, the ruling ZANU-PF as well as the western-backed MDC-T, in South Africa during the week of July 7.

Moreover, the avoidance of the G8 leaders to address the major concerns expressed by the African countries in attendance, demonstrates the real agenda of the imperialist states. Even though they have targeted Zimbabwe and Sudan for destabilization and regime change, no mention was made of the continuing wars of aggression by the United States, Britain, and their allies, against the peoples of Iraq, Afghanistan and Somalia, let alone the growing threats of military action against the nation of Iran by both the United States and the State of Israel.

With the deepening economic crisis in the imperialist states, resulting in the increasing loss of jobs, rising energy and food prices, home foreclosures, evictions and the increased levels of political repression against their own populations, the Western nations will continue efforts to exploit and oppress the peoples of the former colonial and semi-colonial regions.

Such conditions of declining living standards in the oppressed nations provide greater opportunities for the workers and the oppressed inside the capitalist states to engage in solidarity actions which mutually benefit the masses in various regions of the world.

Abayomi Azikiwe is the editor of the Pan-African News Wire. PANW articles appear in various publications and websites throughout North America and the world.

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