In a few days time judges at the International Criminal Court will announce whether they are issuing an arrest warrant for Sudan’s president, Omar al-Bashir. The court’s prosecutor has called for Bashir’s arrest on 10 counts of genocide, war crimes and crimes against humanity.
Whatever you think about the charges – and we’ll get onto that in another post – few can disagree that Bashir and his government are responsible for much of the death and destruction wrought across Darfur over the past six years (yes, this has now been going on as long as World War Two).
But there is always the odd conspiracy theorist kicking about. And oh look, he just happens to be the head of the African Union. Libyan dictator, Muammar Gaddafi (who would prefer it if you all just referred to him now as plain old “king of kings”) knows whose fault it really is…
“Why do we have to hold President Bashir or the Sudanese government responsible when the Darfur problem was caused by outside parties and Tel Aviv, for example, is behind the Darfur crisis?”
Gaddafi has form. The UN and AU stupidly decided Libya would be a great place to hold the last round of Darfur peace talks, conveniently ignoring the fact that Gaddafi had armed or funded several of the groups at different times. This decision obviously had nothing whatsoever to do with Gaddafi’s offer to fund the whole shebang.
The peace talks were pretty much dead in the water before they began. Two of the most influential rebel leaders, JEM’s Khalil Ibrahim and the SLA’s Abdul Wahed, announced they weren’t going to turn up.
They were absolutely dead in the water the moment Gaddafi opened his mouth. Just before the opening, he gave his own analysis on the conflict. It was not genocide, nor was it a rebellion followed by a brutal counter-insurgency, and it certainly wasn’t the world’s largest humanitarian disaster. No, it was merely a “quarrel over a camel” and we should all just let them get on with it.
That Gaddafi has said something ridiculous is hardly news. Or at least it wasn’t until last month when African leaders decided that despite there being quite a few democratically elected (and sane) presidents and prime ministers across the continent the best person to be the new chairman of the African Union was actually the Guide of the First of September Great Revolution of the Socialist People’s Libyan Arab Jamahiriya.
This was, I’ll admit, great news for journalists. We’ll be kept very busy writing about Gaddafi’s latest outburst. It’s not such great news for Africa though. The African Union was set up to replace the Organisation for African Unity, which was otherwise known as the African Dictator’s Club. While it’s a bit better at things like refusing to recognise coup leaders and demanding the occasional election, choosing one of the world’s craziest dictators as the new boss probably wasn’t the smartest move.