By Tesfa-Alem Tekle
June 18, 2015
(ADDIS ABABA) – Ethiopian Prime Minister Hailemariam Desalegn on Thursday defended the rejection of the South African government to arrest and hand over Sudanese president, Omer Hassan al-Bashir, to the International Criminal Court (ICC).
Earlier this week, the South African government came under huge pressures from rights groups, ICC and international community to deliver Bashir to the war crimes court in response to two arrest warrants issued against him since 2009 and 2010.
Speaking in a meeting with a visiting Sudanese media delegation Desalegn said the South African government wasn’t cooperating with the ICC to arrest the Sudanese President as some reports speculated.
The Ethiopian prime minister said the attempt to arrest the Sudanese president was instigated by non-governmental organizations and not the South African government.
71-year-old Bashir, who was re-elected recently for a new term was in Johannesburg to attend the 25th Ordinary Summit of the African Union.
However, shortly after his arrival in South Africa on Sunday, a South African court ordered the Sudanese president not to leave the country until decision is made on whether he should be sent to ICC to stand trial over alleged war crimes.
In defiance of a court order and amide urgent calls for his arrest, the Sudanese president, however flew home on Monday after the South African government reportedly let him leave the country despite the court’s decision.
Dessalegn, who also is IGAD chairperson, assured that his country “objects the imposition on African leaders” for which Ethiopia along with the African Union will continue to struggle against “such injustice”.
African states have repeatedly accused ICC of double standards arguing the Hague based court was only targeting political leaders in Africa but not to those war criminals elsewhere.
During the African summit in South Africa, AU chairman Zimbabwe’s president, Robert Mugabe, has urged African leaders to pull out of the ICC.
South Africa’s ruling party (ANC) has also slammed ICC recent attempt to arrest the Sudanese president and voiced support to the Africa Union’s position for amendment to the Rome Statute.
The visit of the Sudanese media delegation to Ethiopia was part of the ongoing efforts to cement existing strong relationship between Ethiopia and Sudan and address regional concerns.
During the meeting, Desalegn briefed the 22-member Sudanese media team, on bilateral relations, Ethiopia’s plan to use Sudanese port and boosting investment with Sudan as well as on the ongoing South Sudan peace process.
Also, he briefed the delegation on Ethiopia’s multi-billion dollar Nile dam project which had been a source of dispute with Egypt and the current tripartite relations and progress achieved with that regard.
The Sudanese media delegation have visited Addis Ababa light railway network, transformer factory and Addis Ababa university Science Faculty.