Tag Archives: Bashir

South Africa – ICC withdrawal is just siding with war criminals

Institute for Security Studies

By withdrawing from the ICC, SA is effectively siding with alleged war criminals.

On Thursday, with no public announcement or consultation, South Africa informed the United Nations (UN) that it was withdrawing from the International Criminal Court (ICC), becoming the second nation in just a matter of days to do so. Burundi was the first.

But South Africa’s announcement was much more shocking. Whereas Burundi is currently experiencing violent political instability, and its leaders face immediate fears of being investigated and charged by the Court, South Africa is supposed to be a beacon of liberal democracy on the continent.

According to its world-renowned constitution, and the human rights-based foreign policy espoused by the late Nelson Mandela, South Africa should be at the vanguard of efforts to deliver justice to victims of war crimes and genocide.

Instead, South Africa now finds itself siding with wanted alleged war criminals, such as Sudan’s President Omar al-Bashir, who is accused by the ICC of committing genocide in Darfur. It is a remarkable fall from grace – although, if South Africans are honest with themselves, it was not entirely unexpected. South Africa’s ruling party, the African National Congress, has been making anti-ICC noises for some time, while South African diplomats have in recent years enthusiastically supported the continental backlash against the court.

Legally, the decision will have little immediate impact. The Rome Statute, which constituted the ICC, only allows for a state to withdraw a full year after the (legal) notice of withdrawal is delivered to the UN Secretary-General. In other words, South Africa will remain a member of the ICC until 20 October 2017. And the withdrawal will obviously not apply retrospectively in relation to South Africa’s legal obligations.

Moreover, it is still highly doubtful whether the presidency had the legal authority to deliver that notice without prior approval from the South African Parliament. Given that Parliament must ratify international treaties of this nature to make them legally binding, it follows that only Parliament can remove those legal obligations.

This will be tested in court soon as a coalition of civil society organisations intends to lodge an urgent court application to have the decision to withdraw declared unlawful. This pressure has caused the South African government to backtrack somewhat, stating that it now expects Parliament to get involved. There are even unconfirmed rumours that the process has been halted in New York.

Less clear are the political consequences. There is little doubt among independent journalists and civil society activists in South Africa that the motivation for the proposed withdrawal is political rather than legal, and that it is inextricably linked to the president’s own domestic issues. President Jacob Zuma is under extraordinary domestic pressure following multiple corruption scandals, widespread social unrest and a historically poor performance by the ruling party in the recent local elections.

As the pressure on Zuma grows, so his actions become more desperate. Witness the recent, trumped-up fraud charge laid against Finance Minister Pravin Gordhan, who has refused to allow the presidency to dictate to the Treasury; and now this decision on the ICC.

The intended political benefits are three-fold. First, Zuma hopes to undermine the anticipated Constitutional Court hearing on the government’s handling of the Bashir case. Two lower courts have already ruled that the South African government failed in its international obligations when it did not arrest al-Bashir when he visited the country for an African Union summit in June 2015.

The Constitutional Court, South Africa’s highest legal authority, is widely expected to uphold these decisions. Although South Africa’s notice to withdraw will have no legal bearing on the case, it will allow the government to mitigate its guilt, at least in the public eye, by arguing that it is no longer part of the ICC statute.

Second, Zuma wants to shift the national narrative away from his own controversies. These include (but are not limited to) the public protector’s investigation into undue influence wielded by a prominent business family, the Guptas, over functions of the state; the turf war between the finance minister, the revenue collection agency and the president for control of the treasury; and the nationwide student protests in support of free tertiary education that may force South African universities to abandon this academic year.

While the ICC decision will doubtless infuriate many, Zuma hopes that his stance – which is being cloaked in strong, pan-African, anti-colonial rhetoric – will resonate with his core constituency.

Third, the decision will ingratiate Zuma with his African counterparts. As Zuma’s domestic support wanes, so external backing becomes ever more important. Most fellow African leaders, who have repeatedly condemned the ICC’s perceived anti-African bias at the African Union, will laud Zuma’s decision, and some will probably follow suit.

It is perhaps no coincidence that the ICC decision was finalised just as Zuma returned from a visit to Kenya. Kenyan President Uhuru Kenyatta – who was charged with crimes against humanity by the ICC before the charges were dropped in late 2014 – has led the diplomatic fight against the court.

The new South Africa, epitomised by Mandela, was famed for its principles. The government’s unilateral decision to withdraw from the ICC is a reflection of how much those principles have eroded since 1994, a process only accelerated by Zuma’s administration. Is it enough to save Zuma? Unlikely. But in renouncing international justice, and effectively siding with war criminals, Zuma will add another disgraceful element in the history of his disastrous rule, one that hopefully future leaders will be able to undo.

Anton du Plessis, Executive Director, ISS and Simon Allison, ISS consultant

Sudan – Amnesty International accuses Khartoum of using chemical weapons in Darfur


Sudan’s government has carried out at least 30 likely chemical weapons attacks in the Jebel Marra area of Darfur since January using what two experts concluded was a probable blister agent, Amnesty International said on Thursday.

The rights group estimated that up to 250 people may have died as a result of exposure to the chemical weapons agents.

The most recent attack occurred on Sept. 9 and Amnesty said its investigation was based on satellite imagery, more than 200 interviews and expert analysis of images showing injuries.

“The use of chemical weapons is a war crime. The evidence we have gathered is credible and portrays a regime that is intent on directing attacks against the civilian population in Darfur without any fear of international retribution,” said Tirana Hassan, Amnesty International’s director of Crisis Research.

Sudanese U.N. Ambassador Omer Dahab Fadl Mohamed said in a statement that the Amnesty report was “utterly unfounded” and that Sudan does not possess any type of chemical weapons.

“The allegations of use of chemical weapons by Sudanese Armed Forces is baseless and fabricated. The ultimate objective of such wild accusation, is to steer confusion in the on-going processes aimed at deepening peace and stability and enhancing economic development and social cohesion in Sudan,” he said.

Amnesty said it had presented its findings to two independent chemical weapons experts.

“Both concluded that the evidence strongly suggested exposure to vesicants, or blister agents, such as the chemical warfare agents sulphur mustard, lewisite or nitrogen mustard,” Amnesty said in a statement.

Sudan joined the Chemical Weapons Convention in 1999 under which members agree to never use toxic arms.

A joint African Union-United Nations force, known as UNAMID, has been stationed in Darfur since 2007. Security remains fragile in Darfur, where mainly non-Arab tribes have been fighting the Arab-led government in Khartoum, and the government is struggling to control rural areas.

Some 300,000 people have been killed in Darfur since the conflict began in 2003, the U.N. says, while 4.4 million people need aid and over 2.5 million have been displaced.

The International Criminal Court issued arrest warrants for Sudanese President Omar Hassan al-Bashir in 2009 and 2010 on charges of war crimes and genocide in his drive to crush the Darfur revolt.

(Reporting by Michelle Nichols; Editing by Tom Brown)

Sudan, CAR and Chad plan joint border force

Sudan Tribune

(KHARTOUM) – Sudan, Chad and Central African Republic (CAR) leaders held talks on Wednesday over the deployment of joint border monitoring units.

JPEG - 18.9 kb
Joint Sudanese-Chadian border patrol forces in trucks (FILE)

The meeting was held in the capital of North Darfur state El Fasher were on the sidelines of the celebrations to mark the completion of Darfur Document for Peace in Darfur attended.

Sudanese Government Spokesperson Ahmed al-Balal, in a press statement Wednesday, said that Presidents Omer al-Bashir, Idriss Déby and Faustin Archange Touadér discussed the implementation of the Sudanese-Chadian experience with the Central African Republic through the deployment of joint forces on the CAR borders with Chad and Sudan.

“The Sudanese Chadian experience has proven its success,” he added.

Al-Balal said that Bashir and Deby reiterated their support to CAR’s efforts to promote security and stability in the region. He further said that the tripartite meeting touched on the situation in Central African Republic and ways to achieve security and stability on its borders.

In the past years, the CAR governments discussed ways to join Chad-Sudan joint border patrols with the two countries but the political instability in Bangui prevented the poor country from joining this force.

Sudan and Chad established the joint border monitoring force in 2010 following political agreement between Presidents Bashir and Deby. Its initial purpose was to prevent cross border attacks by rebel groups from both sides.



Sudan – Bashir orders reopening of border with South Sudan

BBCAn asylum seeker and her baby from Sudan, who recently arrived in South Sudan, stands beside a truck holding some of her belongings before she is transferred to the refugee camp in Ajuong Thok, near Yida, northern South SudanAFP/Getty  Although the border has not been officially open, refugees have crossed in both directions

Sudan’s President Omar al-Bashir has ordered the opening of his country’s border with South Sudan for the first time since the latter seceded in 2011.

The move comes days after reports that South Sudan had ordered its troops to withdraw a short way from the border.

Disputes over the border remain unresolved and the two countries fought over the Heglig oilfield in 2012.

South Sudan gained independence as the outcome of a 2005 agreement that ended a 22-year civil war.

A shattered dream

The city that vanished

Men of dishonour

Why does South Sudan matter to the US?

Mr Bashir has asked the Sudanese authorities to “take all measures” for the reopening, state news agency Suna reported.

Last week Mr Bashir also agreed to consider lowering the fees paid by South Sudan for the use of Sudanese infrastructure to export oil.

South Sudan contains most of the oilfields that belonged to Sudan before 2011.

The new country descended into civil war in 2013 when fighting broke out between forces loyal to Mr Kiir and his former deputy Riek Machar, splitting the country down ethnic lines.

Hundreds of thousands of South Sudanese have fled to neighbouring countries including Sudan.

Sudan's President Omar al-Bashir looks on before addressing the nation on the eve of the 60th anniversary of its Independence Day at the presidential palace in KhartoumImage copyrightReuters
Image captionMr al-Bashir’s decision follows reports South Sudanese troops were moved back from the border

South Africa – DA bid to impeach Zuma over Bashir fails

Mail and Guardian

he DA’s bid to impeach President Jacob Zuma over the government’s handling of Sudanese President Omar al-Bashir’s visit to the country has failed.

Mmusi Maimane said by allowing Bashir to leave the country, “our broken president broke the law to protect another broken man”. (David Harrison, MG)

The Democratic Alliance brought a motion to impeach Zuma to Parliament because it blamed his government for allowing Sudanese President Omar al-Bashir to leave the country, despite the North Gauteng High Court ordering that he be stopped from leaving. The party called for the establishment of an ad-hoc committee to establish Zuma’s fitness to hold office.

In a chaotic sitting with shouting MPs and even louder speakers, the motion to impeach Zuma was rejected, with 211 MPs voting against it, 100 for it and 17 abstentions, mostly from the Economic Freedom Fighters.

The EFF suggested amendments to the motion, including establishing an ad-hoc committee to deal with the Marikana massacre. Their motion was defeated with 310 votes against and 17 in favour, with one abstention.

DA leader Mmusi Maimane went back to an old classic during the impeachment debate in Parliament on Tuesday, another version of “the broken man” speech, this time including al-Bashir.

Justice and Correctional Services Deputy Minister John Jeffery reiterated the sentiment by calling him a hollow man, presiding over a hollow party full of empty promises.

In February this year, following the State of the Nation address, Maimane lashed out at Zuma, labelling him a broken man who has been allowed to get away with too much, accusing him of breaking Parliament.

And on Tuesday, he piled yet another wave of criticism on the president, this time for the country’s handling of Bashir’s visit to the country in June during the African Union Summit.  Bashir is wanted by the International Criminal Court for war crimes and crimes against humanity.

In his speech in Parliament on Tuesday, with ANC MPs heckling him throughout, Maimane said Bashir represented everything dark about the world.

“He joins the ranks of genocidal dictators from across the globe – Hilter of Germany, Pol Pot of Cambodia, Stalin of the Soviet Union and Chairperson Mao of the People’s Republic of China. These are the big men of our times. And, like all bullies, they are broken men. Broken men presiding over broken societies.”

Maimane said by allowing Bashir to leave the country, “our broken president broke the law to protect another broken man”. He said that was why they had tabled a motion to look into the impeachment of Zuma.

Maimane told the ANC while they could not fix a broken president, they could recall it, as they had done it before.

“You know as well as do he is beyond repair. Today is your opportunity to put South Africa back on track.”

Small Business Development Minister Lindiwe Zulu said she was sure South Africans were tired of hearing “broken man this, broken that”.

She said the motion was aimed at discrediting the leadership of the ANC, under Zuma.

“It is also aimed at undermining the role and responsibility of South Africa in the peace-building processes of the African continent. Further, it is aimed at undermining the political, economic and diplomatic relations South Africa has with other AU member states. The ANC-led government has always respected and upheld the rule of law and has always acted in line with the letter and spirit of the Constitution of the Republic.”

She said the question of whether South Africa had a legal obligation to arrest a sitting foreign head of state was a complex matter concerning both international and national law and had far-reaching implications for the conduct of international relations.

“It should be noted that the indictment of President al-Bashir would have potentially destroyed efforts led by Deputy President Ramaphosa as well as the AU in bringing about peace in the region and the country. In addition, it would have affected South Africa’s standing relations in its international and diplomatic relations on the continent and beyond,” said Zulu.

Economic Freedom Fighters MP Godrich Gardee said Zuma should be thrown in the dustbin, though not for not arresting Bashir when he was in the country.

He said the president should be impeached for the slow-moving economy, the Marikana massacre and the spending of funds on his Nkandla homestead.

“Those who want al-Bashir, they should go look for him. He [Zuma] should go, not for al-Bashir, but because he is in total disregard of the Constitution. Pantsi ngoZuma,” Gardee said.

The United Democratic Movement did not support the motion. UDM MP Nqabayomzi Kwankwa said if the motion had been about anything else but Bashir, they would have supported it. The African People’s Convention was also against it, while it was supported by the rest of the opposition parties.

ANC MP Jackson Mthembu listed the reasons under which a president can be removed by the house and said the Bashir matter was not a Zuma matter but a government one.  “There is no constitutional or parliamentary basis for such an ad-hoc committee to be established. President Zuma remains unbroken.”

He accused the DA of moving to the EFF’s gutter politics.  Deputy Minister Jeffery said only a court of law and not Maimane could decide whether the department was in contempt of court.

“The issue is not around whether we support genocide or not.”  He then turned to Maimane and said he did not know the Constitution.

“But all of this is probably not surprising, given that the leader of the opposition was fast-tracked into the limelight by Helen Zille and has little over a year’s experience in Parliament.”

He said Maimane was in it for the headlines.  “Honourable Maimane is a hollow man presiding over a hollow party. A party which is, as Business Day called it, all bright lights and hashtags. A hollow man, presiding over a hollow party, devoid of substance.

“This motion and the establishment of an ad hoc committee is yet another DA-pipedream, another empty promise, another empty DA headline. There is not an iota of substance to it.”

Sudan – Bashir and Turabi meet and discuss “successive regime”

Sudan Tribune
July 13, 2015 (KHARTOUM) – An official in Sudan’s ruling National Congress Party (NCP) revealed that president Omer Hassan al-Bashir held talks with the head of the Popular Congress Party (PCP) Hassan al-Turabi on the latter’s vision for what frequently describes as a “successive regime”.
Sudanese president Omer Al-Bashir shakes hands with Hassan Al-Turabi, leader of the opposition Popular Congress Party in Khartoum on 14 March 2014 (SUNA)

Hamid Mumtaz, NCP’s political relations secretary, told reporters on Monday that the previously unannounced meeting sought to unify the search of what he called “the unification of Ahlul-Qiblah (People praying to Mecca)” but he denied that it tackled the issue of bringing together the divergent Islamic movements.
He did not say when or where the meeting took place.
The NCP official said Ahlul-Qiblah would include “all Islamic movements, Sufis, Salafists, contemporary movements, Arab nationalists and leftist movements as well as a civil society”.
Mumtaz said Turabi spelled out his “successive regime” proposal in detail.
It is believed to be seeking to overcome what is widely viewed as the failure of Islamic parties in governance and establish a new organization for them along with the NCP and overlook the bitterness of the past and take into account the issue of freedoms and diversity in Sudan.
Turabi has asserted last week his confidence in the possibility of re-uniting the Islamic movement in Sudan “sooner or later”, emphasizing that it must be achieved within a year and called for praying towards this goal.
The PCP led by Turabi split from the NCP in 1999 in a major rift among Islamists and later al-Tayeb Mustafa split to form the Just Peace Forum (JPF) and most recently Ghazi Salah al-Din al-Attabani established the Reform Now Movement (RNM) in October 2013.
Turabi was the mastermind of the 1989 Islamists coup which brought Bashir to power. However, the two men fell out in a bitter power struggle ten years later. Al-Turabi was ousted from the NCP and he later moved to form the PCP and become one of the government’s most outspoken critics.
But since early 2014 he has effectively left opposition ranks saying they have failed in toppling the regime and spoke enthusiastically of the national dialogue launched by Bashir in January 2014.

Suda – Bashir to unveil reform plan

Sudan Tribune

Sudanese president to unveil comprehensive reform proposal

January 22, 2014 (KHARTOUM) – The ruling National Congress Party (NCP) is putting the final touches on a major proposal for political reform in Sudan which would form the basis for dialogue with other political parties.

JPEG - 10.4 kb
Sudan’s President Omer al-Bashir speaks after meeting with South Sudan’s President Salva Kiir, in the capital Juba, South Sudan Monday, Jan. 6, 2014 (AP Photo/Ali Ngethi)

Sudanese president Omer Hassan al-Bashir was reportedly working on this initiative since last year that was meant to set the stage for political transformation in a country gripped by conflict and crises for decades.

The visiting United States former president Jimmy Carter told reporters after meeting with Bashir on Tuesday that the latter informed him of his intention to announce important” political decisions in the coming days but offered no details.

Some aspects of the lengthy reform document prepared by the NCP was revealed by the al-Ayam newspaper and included

• Reaching peace deal with internal rivals through dialogue that would also be incorporated in a new constitution;

• Democratic transformation that would see the people enjoying freedom of association, freedom to form political parties and freedom of expression among others;

• Launching a program for poverty reduction that would eliminate claims of marginalization;

• Resolving the issue of the country’s identity and making citizenship the basis of all rights

On Wednesday Bashir held talks with the son of the Democratic Unionist Party (DUP) leader Mohamed al-Hassan al-Mirghani and other party figures to lay out his vision for reform. He is expected to hold further meetings with other opposition parties on the same subject.

DUP leader Mohamed Osman al-Mirghani is currently traveling abroad.

The minister of Investment and leading NCP figure Mustafa Osman Ismail told reporters that Bashir exchanged with al-Mirghani views on national issues in order to reach a consensus on them in the coming period.

DUP Hatem al-Sir said that the meeting was made at the request of Bashir and described it as a good opportunity to deliberate on the overall political developments in the country. He said that dialogue between the two parties is the interest of the nation.

The DUP official went on to say that more detailed talks would be followed between the two sides through different channels.

Bashir’s assistant and NCP deputy chairman for party affairs Ibrahim Ghandour said at an open meeting with the leaders of the party in Nahr al-Neel state that reform pursued by the party was evident after top officials resigned from their government posts.

Last month, president Bashir who is also the chairman of the NCP issued presidential decrees appointing Bakri Hassan Salih as First Vice President, Hassabo Abdel-Rahman as 2nd Vice President and Ibrahim Ghandour as presidential assistant as well as decrees appointing 26 ministers and state ministers.

Ali Osman Taha who was viewed as the top Islamist figure in the government said he resigned as 1st VP to allow Bashir to implement his “change” vision. Other officials also said they tendered their resignations for the same reason.

The biggest surprise in the reshuffle was the departure of the powerful presidential assistant Nafie Ali Nafie from the government and the NCP leadership. The cabinet also witnessed the stepping down of veteran oil minister Awad Ahmed Al-Jaz, who remained in the government formation since 1989.

Ghandour stressed that this shakeup will be followed by a change in the policies of the state and the party according to scientific methodologies adding that the NCP seeks to accommodate all the people of Sudan without exclusion.

He also made a reference to the recent split in the party saying that the NCP doors are wide open for reform and criticism from inside without expressing views outside that are not in line with the party policies.

Late last year a group of NCP figures led by former presidential advisor Ghazi Salah al-Deen al-Attabani formed a new party which they named Reform Now Party (RNP).

Al-Attabani was expelled from the NCP last October in the wake of a memo he drafted, along with more than two dozen party figures the month before, calling for the reversal of a decision to lift fuel subsidies and an end to the violent measures taken against demonstrators who took to the streets to protest.

They also urged Bashir to form a mechanism for national reconciliation comprised of various political forces and assign the economic dossier to a professional national economic team.

“The legitimacy of your rule has never been at stake like it is today”, they said in a letter addressed to Bashir which was seen as a direct challenge to the president who is now the country’s longest-serving leader.

Ghandour urged opposition not to boycott the 2015 elections saying that no mature political party would forsake the opportunity to be an alternative to the current rule.

“We concur with the political forces on the principles and we will not disagree over government posts,” he said before adding that they recognize the crisis in the country.

“We acknowledge the existence of the crisis and will not be ashamed of it or look the other way. We will hold ourselves accountable before others do. We will proceed with comprehensive reform to overcome all obstacles,” he added.

Sudan’s opposition parties call for establishing a transitional government and holding a national conference with the participation of rebel groups to discuss a peaceful solution for the conflicts in Darfur region, South Kordofan, and Blue Nile states.

The interim government would organize general elections once a political agreement on constitutional matters is reached, inaugurating a new democratic regime. But the NCP rejects this proposal saying opposition parties must simply prepare for the 2015 elections and that rebels should sign first peace accords.