The fact that Sudanese President Omar al-Bashir is wanted by the International Criminal Court for war crimes and crimes against humanity is finally beginning to hamper his diplomatic ventures. Even members of the African Union, which as an organization refused to cooperate with the ICC’s arrest warrant, are under international pressure to give the Sudanese president the cold shoulder.
Earlier this week, human rights groups urged Nigerian president Umaru Yar’Adua to arrest Bashir when he attended the AU summit on Thursday, in Abuja. The conference will focus on the AU Panel on Darfur’s report.
The groups say that as a signatory to the Rome Statute that established the ICC, Nigeria is required to support all of the court’s actions. As Amnesty International put it:
The Nigerian government has an unconditional legal obligation to arrest President Omar al-Bashir and hand him over to the ICC, should he enter Nigerian territory. Any failure to fulfill obligations under international law may amount to obstruction of justice.
Nigeria is also susceptible to heavier international scrutiny, given its recent election to a non-permanent member seat on the United Nations Security Council.
Though the pressure did not have any effect on Nigeria—an unnamed government official said that the Nigerian government would not arrest Al-Bashir —it did seem to change the calculus for Bashir. Instead of going himself, second-in-command Ali Osman Taha will represent Sudan instead.
Egypt is also feeling the heat from the French government. The Sudan Tribune reports that France is seeking to exclude Bashir from the upcoming Africa-France summit in Cairo. The issue came up in a meeting between French Interior Minister Brice Hortefeux and Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak yesterday. “France is well aware of the difficult question of Sudan,” said Hortefeux.
Though many AU members still refuse to cooperate with the ICC, it seems that some countries are beginning to ask themselves what it is worth to align with a man accused of targeting millions of his own people.