Vice President Mompati Merafhe has reiterated the government of Botswana’s stance that Sudanese President Omar al-Bashir should be brought before the International Criminal Court to face charges of genocide, crimes against humanity and war crimes in Sudan.
In March 2009, the ICC filed 10 charges against al-Bashir, with three counts of genocide, five of crimes against humanity and two of murder. He was accused of masterminding a campaign to get rid of the African tribes in Darfur, Fur, Masalit and Zaghawa.
Speaking during the recent visit by the President of Southern Sudan and Vice President of the Republic of Sudan, General Salva Kiir Mayardit, Merafhe said that Botswana does not tolerate impunity and the ICC must not be prevented from carrying out its mandate as reposed by the Rome Statute.
Merafhe’s utterances come in the wake of similar statements made by President Seretse Khama Ian Khama during Tanzanian President Jakaya Kikwete.
“We should condemn African leaders who show disregard for human rights and the rule of law as is presently the case with Sudan. And by not condoning impunity, we should also render such leaders to international justice including the International Criminal Court so that they can answer to the charges laid against them,” said Khama at the time.
Merafhe said on Thursday that General Mayardit’s visit serves to consolidate the cordial relations between Botswana and the Sudanese people, which have centered on human rights and dignity.
“Botswana has supported the just cause of the people of Southern Sudan to fight injustice and intolerance as perpetrated by the North. It is for the same reason that Botswana has found it fitting to pronounce its position on the indictment of President Al Bashir by the International Criminal Court. Our view is that impunity must not be tolerated, and the ICC must not be prevented from carrying out its mandate as reposed by the Rome Statute” he charged.
The conflict in Sudan is primarily between the North and the South or, alternatively, between the Arabs and the Africans. The conflicts are rooted in centre or periphery inequalities, overlaid with ethnic and religious differences. The longest running conflict, between North and South, began in 1983 and ended in 2005 with the signing of the Comprehensive Peace Agreement (CPA).Tensions, however, are sure to be high for both the Presidential elections in 2010 and the North-South secession referendum in 2011.
The fragile CPA, in one way or another, affects almost every state in the North and South of Sudan. Beneath that are numerous tribal differences that continue to be politicized, bitter oil related conflicts and an ever increasing apprehension that forthcoming elections will exacerbate problems further. There are also fears that the conflicts in Sudan have the potential to trigger a regional war, drawing in neighbouring countries.
The enduring and courageous struggle of the Sudanese people, said Merafhe, has culminated in the Machackos Agreement and ultimately the signing of the CPA.
“Today the people of Sudan have a chance to enjoy peace, but that is all dependent on the commitment of the parties to implement the CPA. While the implementation of the CPA is moving at a snail’s pace, we stand resolute in our commitment to ensuring that it is fully implemented and the people of Southern Sudan are allowed to exercise their right to choose their destiny,” he added.
Chad is a key player in the Sudanese conflict. Thousands of displaced persons from Darfur reside in Chad. They accuse Sudan of funding militia cross-border strikes into UNHCR camps.
In May 2008, Sudan accused Chad of arming and assisting rebels who attacked Khartoum. Sudan also cut diplomatic relations with Chad. Other players include the Justice and Equality Movement (JEM), an armed rebel group involved in the conflict in Darfur, the National Congress Party (NCP) led by President Bashir, the Popular National congress Party (PNC), a splitter group of the NCP led by Hassan Al-Turabi, Sudanese People’s Liberation Movement (SPLA), a southern based group once led by John Garang, and the AUNAMIR, a 26 000 strong AU-UN peacekeeping force operating in Darfur since January 2008.
Since he came into power, President Khama has bolted from the previous silent diplomacy adhered to by his predecessor, embarking on a fearless foreign policy that adopted an aggressive stance against countries who infringe on their citizens human rights.