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Sudan & the ICC

Imperialist pressure forces move of African Union summit

Published Jun 13, 2012 8:14 PM

The African Union, a continental organization designed to foster greater unity and development, was formed 10 years ago. The AU was the successor to the Organization of African Unity, which was established in 1963 at the height of the independence movement against European colonialism.

This year’s African Union Summit was scheduled to take place in the southern African state of Malawi, but it has been relocated to the AU headquarters in Ethiopia — a country whose troops have been fighting in Somalia in collaboration with the U.S.

Continued imperialist intervention into the internal affairs of the African continent has resulted in a controversy over the possible attendance at the summit of Sudanese President Omar Hassan al-Bashir. Bashir is under indictment by the International Criminal Court, stemming from his government’s efforts to suppress a revolt by several rebel groups in the Darfur region. The AU has rejected the ICC’s 10-count indictment, saying the charges serve as an impediment to a peaceful resolution of the conflict.

President Bashir has attended all AU meetings since the indictment was handed down by the ICC. The AU has refused to allow this Netherlands-based entity to dictate relationships among various member states. An AU meeting was held in Malawi two years ago, hosted by former President Bingu wa Mutharika, who passed away early this year.

Malawi’s new head of state, Joyce Banda, says she must rebuild relations with donors who contribute to the government of the country, one of Africa’s least developed. Former President Mutharika had 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 was straightforward in explaining her rationale for not wanting Bashir to attend the AU meeting in Lilongwe. Nonetheless, the fact that African governments must compromise their regional obligations in the leading regional organization to curry favor with the West speaks volumes about the ongoing program of imperialism to prevent principled unity among AU members.

The ICC & African affairs

The ICC grew out of the so-called Rome Statute, signed in 1998 by numerous states throughout the world, though not by the U.S. The court was ostensibly set up to hold heads of state and organizations outside of government to standards of international law.

Nonetheless, all the states targeted by the ICC have been on the African continent. Despite the grave war crimes and other violations of human rights carried out by the U.S., NATO and the European Union, none of these has been investigated, let alone indicted, by the ICC.

That is why the ICC has been labeled by many as the “African Criminal Court.” In addition to the president of Sudan, the former leader of Libya, Col. Moammar Gadhafi, was also targeted by the ICC during the imperialist war of regime change that resulted in his assassination in 2011.

At present the ICC is in Libya to investigate the prosecution of Seif al-Islam, Gadhafi’s son and heir apparent.

During early June, four members of the ICC delegation visiting Libya were detained by the National Transitional Council “rebel” regime that was installed by the U.S. and NATO between August and October 2011. Although their detention was a violation of international law, it brought no outcry from the White House or NATO.

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 that examined 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 the civil war where the imperialist states played a leading role in fomenting discord.

African governments must strive to maintain 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, particularly the military coups in Mali and Guinea-Bissau.

Mali 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 Africa 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, along with the African Union Mission to Somalia and the Kenyan Defense Forces, 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, resulting in the deaths of hundreds of civilians.

The Africa Command of the Pentagon is becoming more aggressive on the continent. 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 on the imperative of maintaining and honoring the sovereignty of various nation-states and regional organizations.