Tuesday, July 27, 2010

More on Bashir and the AU's Side-Stepping

It's always a good rule of thumb to ignore flowery pontification on African solidarity and all whatnot. That's as much as one can say about Malawian President Mutharika when he waxes poetic about why he's not interested in arresting Omar Al-Bashir. Behind the yarn is usually something more akin to "We'll leave you alone, just promise to keep your people out of my country - the last thing I need is refugees and more street-kids and beggars on the street". At least Tanzanian President Jakaya Kikwete is more honest about it.

Still, in light of my prior post on Gration decrying the ICC warrant for fear of hardening Khartoum's position on the south, this -- concerning Bashir's absence from the AU Summit -- is worth noting:
Wassil Ali an editor at the Sudan Tribune, says his absence from Kampala is not a question of a personal snub.

"When he went to Chad he was given that assurance that he would not be arrested," he says. "Kampala did not give him that assurance."

Bashir was similarly absent from a peace and security council for the African Union in Abuja last year. Sudan responded by diverting the aeroplane of a Nigerian senate leader just before a pre-scheduled visit and saying he did not have the right to enter Sudanese airspace

Worth noting, indeed. Still, you can't tackle a problem you can't name. It's definitely a small victory for the ICC that Bashir looked before he leapt -- well, traveled -- but the facts are as they are: the AU is divided on how best to handle Sudan; the US doesn't want to hurt Bashir's feelings lest he take a temper tantrum out on the south; the activists are rightly shaking their fists and (perhaps unrealistically) hoping the man gets arrested; and Sudan's neighbors are preaching solidarity (like Chad, who recently let Bashir travel with the guarantee he wouldn't be arrested) or simply making extra certain to stay out of it.

It just looks like people are waiting with baited breath for January 2011 and hope that nothing (much) blows up.

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