Category Archives: North Africa

Sudan – Darfur conflict changing and becoming more internecine but not getting better


In Darfur, things have changed, but not for the better
31 August 2015

The Peace and Security Council (PSC) undertook a field mission to Darfur and Khartoum this month amid growing concern about the situation in Darfur. The African Union (AU) has been involved in attempts to solve the Darfur conflict for over a decade, having started to send peacekeepers to the area in 2004.

In June 2015, the United Nations (UN) Security Council voted to extend the mandate of the UN–AU Mission in Darfur (UNAMID), citing a ‘significant deterioration of the security situation’.

The unanimous vote represented something of a defeat: an admission that after 11 years of international involvement, the region remains as dangerous and unstable as ever.

It is important not to underestimate the scale of the Darfur conflict, and its cost – in both human and financial terms. Since the fighting began in earnest in 2003, more than 300 000 people have been killed and an estimated 2.5 million more displaced (this from a population of around 6.2 million).

The AU has had a presence there since 2004, in the form of the AU Mission in Sudan (AMIS), which morphed into UNAMID in 2007. UNAMID’s mandate provides for 15 845 military personnel, 1 583 police personnel and 13 formed police units of up to 140 personnel each, which are drawn from 37 different countries. Its budget is currently US$1.1 billion per year. The International Crisis Group (ICG) estimates that the total international cost of the war in Darfur, including humanitarian aid, has exceeded US$20 billion since 2003.

Over the years, the conflict has changed, becoming ever more fractured and internecine

This investment of money, personnel and diplomatic capital has failed to resolve the situation, however. Even though a high-profile peace deal – the Doha Document for Peace in Darfur (DDPD) – was signed in 2011 between the government of President Omar al-Bashir and various rebel groups, the fighting has intensified over the last 18 months. This has left policymakers wondering whether UNAMID is fit for purpose, and what it should be doing differently.

Changing nature of the conflict

Understanding the tangled web of alliances and motivations that underpin the conflict has never been easy, although when the fighting began it was possible to observe the broad trend, which pitted non-Arab tribes against government forces and government-sponsored militia groups (known pejoratively as the Janjaweed). It is on this basis that peace talks proceeded, and the DDPD reflects this understanding, even though several major rebels groups refused to sign the document.

Over the years, however, the conflict has changed, becoming ever more fractured and internecine. ‘Violence in Darfur has continually evolved. In 2003–2005, it was mostly due to attacks by pro-government, largely Arab militias targeting non-Arab communities accused of supporting the rebels. While those continued and intensified again in 2014, violence has mutated since 2006, with Arab communities and militias fighting each other and, to a lesser extent, non-Arab communities targeting non-Arab communities. Arab militias also turned against their government backers, while rebel factions fragmented and fought against each other as well,’ said the ICG in a report in April 2015 entitled ‘The chaos in Darfur’.

It is also important to note that the conflict has outgrown Darfur itself, especially with the occasional cross-border incursion by Chadian forces, and the deal between several major Darfuri rebel groups and the Sudan People’s Liberation Movement-North in South Kordofan and Blue Nile states to form the Sudan Revolutionary Front (SFR).

This poses challenges for any effective peace talks (although the prospect of new peace talks remains illusory, as the Sudanese government resolutely refuses to renegotiate the DDPD). Where should the international community begin: With the rebels and the government? With the government and the Janjaweed, themselves increasingly resistant to Khartoum’s dictates? With the intra-Arab spat between the Salamat and Misseriya, or the resource-fuelled dispute between the Beni Husein and abbala Reizegat? With the long-standing tensions between the non-Arab Zaghawa and other non-Arab militias? With the faction fighting between fragmenting rebel groups?

Involving armed groups in parallel processes

‘Resolution of Darfur’s diverse conflicts requires many things, including a rethink by the international community, in particular the UN Security Council, of many aspects of its relationship with Sudan. One element of that resolution, however, must be to involve as many armed groups as possible in parallel peace processes, including local inter-tribal conferences; Darfur regional security talks; and the national dialogue. In particular, Arab militias need representation in all processes, and government and rebels must acknowledge that they do not fully represent those communities,’ concluded the ICG.

There are encouraging signs that the AU is cognizant of the need for a new, inclusive peace process, particularly in the wake of the PSC’s field mission to Darfur and Khartoum from 19–21 August. Following this visit, the PSC met to discuss the activities of the AU High-Level Implementation Panel (AUHIP) for Sudan and South Sudan, and issued a communiqué that emphasised the importance of national dialogue. Most significantly, the communiqué indicated that the PSC had extracted significant concessions from al-Bashir while in Sudan:

The PSC extracted significant concessions from al-Bashir while in Sudan

‘[The PSC] notes the statement made by President Omar Hassan al-Bashir that the Government of Sudan is ready to observe a two-month ceasefire in order to create the necessary confidence for all stakeholders, including representatives of the armed movements, to join the National Dialogue process, and further notes the commitment made by President al-Bashir to grant amnesty to members of the armed movements to enable them to attend the National Dialogue in safety,’ said the communiqué.

This is a ‘big picture’ issue, however, and if it is to have any chance of success it will need a great deal of political will, and time. In the short term there is still an important role for UNAMID and the international community to play. But to do so they may need to focus on smaller, more readily solvable issues.

Room for improvement

In assessing the effectiveness of any peacekeeping mission, there are two distinct levels of analysis. Firstly, would the situation be worse without the presence of the mission? And secondly, what can the mission do better?

To the first point: almost certainly, Darfur and its beleaguered civilian population would be worse off without UNAMID. The mission not only provides protection to various camps for internally displaced persons but also conducts regular patrols and containment operations to minimise the opportunity for violence. According to the most recent report of the UN secretary-general on UNAMID, during the period from 26 February 2015 to 15 May 2015, the mission ‘conducted 10 376 patrols, comprising 5 567 routine patrols, 682 short-range patrols, 204 long-range patrols, 2 007 night patrols, 178 humanitarian armed escorts and 1 738 logistics and administrative armed escorts. A total of 5 008 villages were covered during these patrols.’

In addition to this, UNAMID provides protection and support for other humanitarian operations, and support for high-level mediation efforts. All these go some way towards improving the situation on the ground, even if only marginally.

‘What can UNAMID do better? This question can be answered by asking another question. What would Darfur look like if UNAMID was not there? Clearly, the situation without UNAMID would have been much worse than the situation on the ground now. It is not perfect, but I believe the mere presence of UNAMID contributes a lot,’ said Meressa Kahsu, a Researcher and Training Coordinator for the Institute for Security Studies who has visited Darfur recently.

UN spokesperson describes ‘conspiracy of silence’

Despite its obvious impact, UNAMID has not been immune to criticism that it could and should be doing more to fulfil its mandate, especially when it comes to protecting civilians. Most damaging were the revelations from former mission spokesperson Aicha el Basri, who resigned from her position to reveal what she described as a ‘conspiracy of silence’ to mask the mission’s shortcomings. She said that UNAMID troops had repeatedly failed to intervene to protect civilians, even when incidents happened before their eyes; and that the mission was also guilty of covering up the scale of these incidents. ‘I felt ashamed to be a spokesperson for a mission that lies, that can’t protect civilians, that can’t stop lying about it,’ she told the BBC.

Recognising shortcomings

The UN denied these accusations, but it is well aware of other shortcomings in the mission. In his report, UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon outlined several factors that prevent it from fulfilling its mandate effectively. These included 60 attacks and hostile incidents against UNAMID personnel in the 90-day reporting period; other attacks against UN agencies and other humanitarian actors; restrictions on movement, access denial and denial of clearances imposed on UNAMID and humanitarian actors, most often by local government officials; and delays or denials of visas for UNAMID staff. These add up to an extremely hostile operating environment.

Despite its faults, Darfur’s civilians would be worse off without UNAMID

‘The mission is like a prisoner who can’t move outside the jail. UNAMID can’t move outside the base without permission from the Government of Sudan. So how can it be effective in implementing its mandate? One example is the media reports on an incident of mass rape in the village of Tabit towards the end of 2014,’ said Kahsu. ‘UNAMID was unable to reach the village in a timely manner and investigate the alleged cases, only gaining access some days after the incident. This brings the credibility of the UNAMID report on the incident into question.

‘Consent of the host country is one of the principles of UN peacekeeping. In my view, this consent is no longer there,’ said Kahsu. In fact, things have become so bad that the government has demanded that UNAMID leave the country entirely. In response, UNAMID is examining possible options for an exit strategy.

If some of these challenges are beyond UNAMID’s control, it can work harder to address other criticisms. One that is well within the mission’s control is to improve cooperation between the UN and the AU, which is not always as good as it should be. The hybrid nature of the operation poses difficulties, but it also represents an opportunity: by leveraging the UN’s experience with the logistics of such missions and the AU’s political influence with the government in Khartoum, UNAMID should be able to punch well above its weight – and make a real difference. At the moment, Institute for Security Studies research shows that this is not happening.

The international community may not be able to solve the situation in Darfur in the near future. It can, however, take concrete steps to make UNAMID more effective, thereby allowing the peacekeeping force to better fulfil its mandate. Already, UNAMID’s presence is able to mitigate the worst effects of the violence for thousands of Darfuris, and there is no reason why it cannot play this role even more effectively. In fact, if it is truly to live up to its mandate, it must do so.

Relevant documents

Communiqué of the 539th meeting of the PSC on the activities of the AU High-Level Implementation Panel (AUHIP) for Sudan and South Sudan

Report of the Secretary-General on the African Union–United Nations Hybrid Operation in Darfur, 26 May 2015

UN Security Council Resolution 2228 (2015) [extending UNAMID’s mandate until 30 June 2016]

Inter Press Service

Moroccan security forces charge against a group of Sahrawi women in Laayoune, occupied Western Sahara. Credit: Courtesy of Equipe Media

Moroccan security forces charge against a group of Sahrawi women in Laayoune, occupied Western Sahara. Credit: Courtesy of Equipe Media

LAAYOUNE, Occupied Western Sahara, Aug 23 2015 (IPS) – Ahmed Ettanji is looking for a flat in downtown Laayoune, a city 1,100 km south of Rabat. He only wants it for one day but it must have a rooftop terrace overlooking the square that will host the next pro-Sahrawi demonstration.

“Rooftop terraces are essential for us as they are the only places from which we can get a graphic testimony of the brutality we suffer from the Moroccan police,” Ettanji told IPS. This 26-year-old is one the leaders of the Equipe Media, a group of Sahrawi volunteers struggling to break the media blackout enforced by Rabat over the territory.

Ahmed Ettanji and a fellow Equipe Media activist edit video taken at a pro-independence demonstration in Laayoune, occupied Western Sahara. Credit: Karlos Zurutuza/IPS

“There are no news agencies based here and foreign journalists are denied access, and even deported if caught inside,” stressed Ettanji.

Spanish journalist Luís de Vega is one of several foreign journalists who can confirm the activist´s claim – he was expelled in 2010 after spending eight years based in Rabat and declared persona non grata by the Moroccan authorities.

“The Western Sahara issue is among the most sensitive issues for journalists in Morocco. Those of us who dare to tackle it inevitably face the consequences,” de Vega told IPS over the phone, adding that he was “fully convinced” that his was an exemplary punishment because he was the foreign correspondent who had spent more time in Morocco.

“The Western Sahara issue is among the most sensitive issues for journalists in Morocco. Those of us who dare to tackle it inevitably face the consequences” – Spanish journalist Luís de Vega

This year will mark four decades since this territory the size of Britain was annexed by Morocco after Spain pulled out from its last colony of Western Sahara.

Since the ceasefire signed in 1991 between Morocco and the Polisario Front – the authority that the United Nations recognises as a legitimate representative of the Sahrawi people – Rabat has controlled almost the whole territory, including the entire Atlantic coast. The United Nations still labels Western Sahara as a “territory under an unfinished process of decolonisation”.

Mohamed Mayara, also a member of Equipe Media, is helping Ettanji to find the rooftop terrace. Like most his colleagues, he acknowledges having been arrested and tortured several times. The constant harassment, however, has not prevented him from working enthusiastically, although he admits that there are other limitations than those dealing with any underground activity:

“We set up the first group in 2009 but a majority of us are working on pure instinct. We have no training in media so we are learning journalism on the spot,” said Mayara, a Sahrawi born in the year of the invasion who writes reports and press releases in English and French. His father disappeared in the hands of the Moroccan army two months after he was born, and he says he has known nothing about him ever since.

Sustained crackdown

Today the majority of the Sahrawis live in the refugee camps in Tindouf, in Western Algeria. The members of Equipe Media say they have a “fluid communication” with the Polisario authorities based there. Other than sharing all the material they gather, they also work side by side with Hayat Khatari, the only reporter currently working openly for SADR TV. SADR stands for ‘Sahrawi Arab Democratic Republic’.

Hayat Khatari, the only reporter currently working openly for SADR TV in Laayoune. Credit: Karlos Zurutuza/IPS

Khatari, a 24-year-old journalist, recalls that she started working in 2010, after the Gdeim Izzik protest camp incidents in Laayoune. Originally a peaceful protest camp, Gdeim Izzik resulted in riots that spread to other Sahrawi cities when it was forcefully dismantled after 28 days on Nov. 8.

Western analysts such as Noam Chomsky have argued that the so-called “Arab Spring” did not start in Tunisia as is commonly argued, but rather in Laayoune.

“We have to work really hard and risk a lot to be able to counterbalance the propaganda spread by Rabat about everything happening here,” Khatari told IPS. The young activist added that she was last arrested in December 2014 for covering a pro-independence demonstration in June 2014. Unlike Mahmood al Lhaissan, her predecessor in SADR TV, Khatari was released after a few days in prison.

In a report released in March, Reporters Without Borders records al Lhaissan´s case. The activist was released provisionally on Feb. 25, eight months after his arrest in Laayoune, but he is still facing trial on charges of participating in an “armed gathering,” obstructing a public thoroughfare, attacking officials while they were on duty, and damaging public property.

In the same report, Reporters Without Borders also denounces the deportation in February of French journalists Jean-Louis Perez and Pierre Chautard, who were reporting for France 3 on the economic and social situation in Morocco.

Before seizing their video recordings and putting them on a flight to Paris, the authorities arrested them at the headquarters of Moroccan Association of Human Rights (AMDH), one of the country’s leading human rights NGOs, which the interior ministry has accused of “undermining the actions of the security forces”.

Likewise, other major organisations such as Amnesty International and Human Rights Watch have repeatedly denounced human rights abuses suffered by the Sahrawi people at the hands of Morocco over the last decades.

Despite several phone calls and e-mails, the Moroccan authorities did not respond to IPS’s requests for comments on these and other human rights violations allegedly committed in Western Sahara.

Back in downtown Laayoune, Equipe Media activists seemed to have found what they were looking for. The owner of the central apartment is a Sahrawi family. It could have not been otherwise.

“We would never ask a Moroccan such a thing,” said Ettanji from the rooftop terrace overlooking the spot where the upcoming protest would take place.

Edited by Phil Harris   

Sudan – Bashir offers ceasefire in Blue Nile, S Kordofan and Darfur

Sudan Tribune

August 20, 2015 (KHARTOUM) – Sudanese President Omer al-Bashir on Thursday said he is ready to declare a two-month ceasefire in Blue Nile, South Kordofan states and Darfur region and renewed his offer of amnesty for the rebel who are willing to join the national dialogue.
Members of the national dialogue general assembly and President Omer al-Bashir attend the third session of the internal process in Khartoum on August 20, 2015 (Photo AFP/Ashraf Shazly)

Al-Bashir who chairs the national dialogue committee aka ,7+7 mechanism, made his offer in a speech before the general assembly of the dialogue process which includes over 83 political parties and 50 national figures.
He told the participants that his call for the national dialogue in January 2014 was motivated by the government’s keenness to achieve peace in Sudan. he further stressed his readiness to provide all the guarantees enabling them to participate in the internal political process and leave the country freely.
The president stressed that they “will not despair” of calling on the holdout opponents inside and outside Sudan to join the process , and repudiate violence as a way to gain power.
“In this regard, we renew our full amnesty for arms bearers who honestly wish to participate in the dialogue. Also (we declare) our readiness for a two-month ceasefire in order to hold the dialogue in a healthy atmosphere and high patriotism,” he said
Bashir stressed that there would not open any negotiation after the end of the dialogue process, and asserted that the ruling National Congress Party and the government will adhere to the implementation of whatever agreed by the conference.
The opposition Sudan Call forces including the rebel groups , National Umma Party (NUP) and National Consensus Forces (NCF), say the government is not serious in its search for a genuine peace and democratic reforms.
After the government refusal to attend a pre-dialogue meeting before April elections, they proposed to enhance the mandate of the African Union chief mediator Thabo Mbeki and to hold the peace talks outside the country before to go inside the country for an inclusive conference on the constitutional reforms.
The African Union High Level Implementation Panel (AUHIP) is expected to meet the rebel groups that participated in the two tracks of negotiations organized last November and the NUP leader to discuss the way forward.
Bashir told the general assembly of the national dialogue he refuses to release imprisoned rebels who participated attacks and killed people.
“To make it clear these (rebels) will not be released,” he said.
He is seemingly alluding to the rebel combatants members of the Justice and Equality Movement (JEM) who attacked Omdurman on 10 May 2008.
The Sudan Call forces call for their release saying it is part of the confidence building measures provided in the African Union roadmap to facilitate the national dialogue, .

Mauritanian anti-slavery activist loses appeal against sentence


A Mauritanian court on Thursday rejected an appeal by the country’s leading anti-slavery campaigner to be released from jail, upholding a two-year sentence passed in January.

The West African government has attempted to criminalise slavery and last week passed a law making it a crime against humanity and doubling prison terms for offenders. But campaigners say it will not be enough to stamp out the practice, thought to affect between 4 and 20 percent of the population.

Biram Dah Abeid, a former presidential candidate, was arrested in November during a peaceful anti-slavery march. He was sentenced in January for inciting trouble and belonging to an unrecognised organisation.

Members of the Haratin community, or black moors, from which slaves are drawn, filled the benches of the courtroom in the southern town of Aleg and cried out in disbelief after the verdict.

The court’s president said that in the absence of new defence testimony it would uphold the earlier sentences.

Biram Dah Abeid, who has twice before been imprisoned for opposing slavery, boycotted the proceedings together with his lawyers.

“I refuse to give up. I will not be silenced. I will not stop challenging the dogma which is used to legitimise slavery here,” he wrote in a letter from jail, released by global activist network Avaaz.

“The real reason for the decision is that Mauritania is willing to pass laws on slavery but does not intend to implement change,” said Alice Jay, campaign director for Avaaz, which has collected a million signatures for a petition for his release.

Jay says the organisation plans to visit European Union leaders in Brussels to lobby for a suspension of up to 195 million euros ($218 million) in EU aid for Mauritania’s government.

Other types of aid given directly to other organisations in the country would not be affected, she said.

Darfur’s Minnawi scoffs at Sudanese accusations of fighting in Libya

Sudan  Tribune

(KHARTOUM) – The leader of a Darfur rebel group laughed off allegations leveled by Khartoum which claimed that his forces are fighting with the forces of Libya’s internationally recognized government.

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Sudan Liberation Movement (SLM) leader Minni Minnawi (AFP file photo)

Minni Minnawi who heads a faction of the Sudan Liberation Movement (SLM-MM) told Sudan Tribune that the accusations by the Sudanese government is an attempt to cover up Khartoum’s support of Islamist militants in Libya including ISIS.

“This talk is not in isolation from the racist tone towards the people of Darfur. It was the [former] foreign minister Ali Karti who declared that Darfur rebels are fighting in Libya along with Gaddafi which was a message to the people of Libya to wipe out the people of Darfur because they escaped from the trap of the [Sudan ruling] National Congress Party,” Minnawi said.

On Tuesday, the Sudanese Armed Forces (SAF) summoned the Libyan military attaché in Khartoum to protest against what it claimed is his government’s harboring of SLM-MM rebels.

SAF spokesperson, Colonel al-Sawarmi Khalid Sa’ad, told the official news agency (SUNA) on Tuesday that the participation of SLM-MM fighters in the Libyan conflict alongside the forces of the retired General Khalifa Heftar poses real threat to Sudan’s national security particularly in Darfur.

He added that it also undermines regional security on the joint Sudanese-Libyan borders.

“The participation [of the SLM-MM in the Libyan conflict] encourages rebel groups to destabilize security of the citizens through forced recruitment and looting”, he added.

The SLM chief said that the message to ISIS is that they can forcibly recruit from large pool of illegal African migrants in Libya including those from Darfur.

“We do not have any groups in Libya and we have no relationship nor knowledge nor contacts with Heftar Brigade,” he stressed.

Minnawi described as “conflicting” Khartoum’s statements on Darfur with president Omer Hassan al-Bashir on the one hand claiming on a trip to Mauritania the eradication of rebels but stressing to African mediators that he will not discuss peace in Darfur with rebels outside the Doha accord framework.

“All these are attempts to cover up their support for terrorism in Libya and training Chadian opposition and the opposition in Central Africa Republic and what they are doing in south Darfur”.


Sudan – Saudi Arabia provides $1bn in forex

Sudan Tribune

(KHARTOUM) – The Sudanese government disclosed that it received $1 billion dollar in central bank deposits from Saudi Arabia in July and August.

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Sudanese State’s Minister of Finance Abdul-Rahman Dirar (finance Ministry Website)

“Sudan’s central bank received an investment deposit from the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia of $1 billion. Last month we received $500 million, and we received the second part this month,” Finance ministry Undersecretary Abdel-Rahman Dirar told reporters according to Reuters.

Dirar did not disclose the terms of this deposit such as the interest rate or maturity date.

Last month, Dirar told Bloombergin an interview that Arab Gulf states have provided Sudan with $2 billion in concessional loans recently.

He declined to name the donors or detail when the funds were received except to say that they would be repaid in “coming years”.

Sudanese officials have previously said that they expect to see large cash inflows from Arab Gulf states following Khartoum’s decision to join Saudi-led military coalition against Houthi rebels in Yemen last March.

But the Saudi ambassador in Khartoum, Faisal Hamed Al-Muallah, dismissed these speculations saying they are only prepared to offer investments.

The value of the Sudanese currency has eroded dramatically following the secession of the oil-rich south and the central bank has been unable to defend it in the market because of low currency reserves.

Meanwhile, presidential assistant Musa Mohamed Ahmed on Wednesday discussed with the Saudi ambassador ways for promoting ties between the two countries.

Al-Muallah said in statements following the meeting that relations between the two nations are strong and well-established, expressing his country’s keenness to support Sudan in development and education domains.

He pointed out that the meeting discussed bilateral ties and the new items which have been added to the agenda of the joint ministerial committee, saying those items would enhance cooperation between the two countries.

The Saudi envoy further said the meeting discussed the situation in the Gulf states besides the recent development of the war in Yemen.

Last April, the Saudi minister of agriculture, Abdel-Rahman Ibn Abdel-Muhissn al-Fadli discussed in Khartoum opportunities for cooperation between the two countries in the service, trade and economic domains.

Also, a high-level technical delegation from Saudi Arabia discussed in Khartoum ways for implementing the Arab food security initiative in Sudan.

According to the Sudanese government, the Arab Gulf states investments in Sudan amounts to $20 billion including $10 billion from Saudi Arabia followed by the United Arab Emirates (UAE) with $6 billion and Kuwait with $5 billion.



Bashir high-tails it back to Sudan to avoid South African court decision in ICC

Mail and Guardian

Sudan said on Monday that President Omar al-Bashir has left South Africa.

Omar al-Bashir. (Reuters)

Sudanese President Omar al-Bashir has left South Africa, a Sudan minister said on Monday, defying a Pretoria court order for him to remain in the country until it ruled on an application for his arrest. Bashir, who was attending an African Union summit in South Africa, has been indicted by the International Criminal Court (ICC) over war crimes and crimes against humanity.

The Pretoria High Court was in session on Monday to decide on a petition by the Southern African Litigation Centre, a rights group that wanted to force the South African government to arrest Bashir and hand him over to the ICC.

South Africa is an ICC signatory and therefore obliged to implement arrest warrants, but the African National Congress on Sunday accused the Hague-based court of being biased against Africans and said it was “no longer useful”.

Pretoria’s furious response and its decision to allow Bashir to leave is affirmation of its shifting diplomatic priorities with Africa’s interests trumping those of the West.

Judge Hans Fabricius on Sunday barred Bashir from leaving South Africa until he had made a decision on the application and had asked the government to inform all ports of exit not to allow the veteran Sudanese leader to leave.

However, Sudan’s state minister Yasser Youssef told Reuters Bashir had left South Africa and was due to land in the Sudanese capital Khartoum at around 3:3pm GMT.

Local South African media earlier reported seeing a Sudanese plane leaving Waterkloof Air Force Base at around 10am GMT.


Jacob Zuma’s government had given immunity to Bashir and all other delegates attending the AU summit.

The ICC issued arrest warrants for Bashir in 2009 and 2010, accusing him of masterminding genocide and other atrocities in his campaign to crush a revolt in the Darfur region. He has long rejected the court’s authority.

The conflict in Darfur has killed as many as 300 000 people and displaced two million, the United Nations says.

The ICC, the US Department and the UN have criticised Pretoria for rolling out the red carpet for Bashir.

“The International Criminal Court’s warrant for the arrest of President al-Bashir on charges of crimes against humanity and war crimes is a matter I take extremely seriously,” UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon told reporters in Geneva.

“The authority of the ICC must be respected and its decision implemented,” Ban added. – Reuters


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