African Union to seek delay of Bashir ICC indictment

African Union to seek delay of Bashir ICC indictment

[JURIST] The African Union (AU) [official website] agreed Monday to seek a postponement of the pending International Criminal Court (ICC) [official website] indictment against Sudan President Omar al-Bashir [BBC profile; JURIST news archive], citing concerns over a possible threat to the peace process in Sudan. Meeting at the 12th African Union Summit [official website] in Addis Ababa, Ethiopa, the AU's Peace and Security Council [official website] agreed to lobby the ICC for a one-year suspension of the case [AFP report]. AU Commission Chairman Jean Ping expressed concern over the fact that ICC cases have been confined to the adjudication of war crimes and crimes against humanity only in African conflicts [Sudan Tribune report].

ICC Chief Prosecutor Luis Moreno-Ocampo [offical profile] applied for an arrest warrant for Bashir [JURIST report] in July, charging him with genocide, crimes against humanity, and war crimes. The warrant was condemned [JURIST report] by the Arab League [official website, in Arabic] and criticized [JURIST report] by South African President Thabo Mbeki [official profile]. In December, ICC judges gave Moreno-Ocampo until January 26 to provide supplemental information [JURIST report] about a September 2007 attack [BBC report] on an African Union [official website] base in Haskanita. The events at the ICC were preceded by a Security Council statement in June urging Sudan to work with the ICC [JURIST report] to "put an end to impunity for the crimes committed in Darfur." Sudan is not a party to the ICC, but must cooperate to fulfill its obligations under Council Resolution 1593 [text], which established jurisdiction over the Darfur situation. Hundreds of thousands of people have allegedly been killed in Darfur by Sudanese military and janjaweed [Slate backgrounder] militia forces.