African dictators must face the music - MDC

2015-06-17 13:53
(Shiraaz Mohamed, AP)

(Shiraaz Mohamed, AP)

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Cape Town – African dictators shouldn't be allowed to hide behind a finger and shamelessly argue that the International Criminal Court (ICC) is only targeting them, Zimbabwe’s opposition Movement for Democratic Change said on Wednesday.

Following the failure by the South African government to arrest Sudanese President Omar al-Bashir during the recent African Union (AU) summit in Johannesburg, the MDC told News24 that all dictators were supposed to be prosecuted for the crimes they committed.

"All dictators and perpetrators of war crimes and genocide, no matter who they are and where they reside, should be made to face the music," MDC spokesperson Obert Gutu said.

Al-Bashir flew out of South Africa on Monday as the High Court in Pretoria ruled that he should be arrested on the warrant issued by the ICC.

As an ICC signatory, South Africa was obliged to implement arrest warrants.

War crimes

Al-Bashir is accused of committing war crimes, crimes against humanity and genocide during the Darfur conflict.

Since his indictment in 2009, Al-Bashir had mostly travelled to countries that have not joined the ICC.

Zimbabwean President Robert Mugabe, who is also the current AU chair, on Monday harshly criticised the ICC after Al-Bashir dodged his arrest, saying the international court was not wanted in Africa.

According to a report by the state-owned Zimbabwean newspaper The Herald, Mugabe took a swipe at the "foreign" funded non-governmental organisations (NGOs), whom he said were angling for Al-Bashir’s arrest.

"There is no African country without NGOs, which is nonsense. They are set up by governments outside who pay these NGOs to be their informers on how we run our countries. Where was good governance when the people here were under apartheid?," Mugabe was quoted as saying during a press conference at the Sandton Convention Centre, where the AU summit took place.

Gross human rights violations

But the MDC slammed Mugabe's remarks, saying he (Mugabe) was "just a rabid and intolerant dictator who doesn't want to be held accountable for all his actions pertaining to the gross human rights violations that his regime committed in Zimbabwe".

Gutu made reference to the 1980s Gukurahundi killings in Zimbabwe's Matebeleland in which at least 20 000 people were killed as one of the "classic examples" of crimes against humanity committed under Mugabe's leadership.

"Robert Mugabe is not well-known for his adherence to the rule of law. Naturally, you will not expect a dictator in his mould to hold the ICC in high esteem," Gutu said.

Gutu said no African country was forced to endorse the Rome statute that created the ICC, adding that South Africa ratified the Rome statute and thus, in terms of public international law, it was obliged to arrest Al-Bashir the moment that he set foot on South African soil.

Darfur erupted into conflict in 2003 when insurgents mounted a campaign against Al-Bashir's government, complaining that their region was politically and economically marginalised.

More than 300 000 people have been killed in the conflict and fighting has forced at least 2.5 million people to flee their homes, according to the United Nations.

Read more on:    international criminal court  |  au  |  mdc  |  robert mugabe  |  omar al-bashir  |  obert gutu  |  zimbabwe  |  sudan  |  southern africa  |  north africa
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