Wednesday, 3 February 2016

RAILA ODINGA: AU Hypocrisy; A Shame on the African Continent, A Disgrace to its Citizens

AU Hypocrisy; A Shame on the African Continent, A Disgrace to its Citizens.
The latest meeting of the African Union ended amid growing concern over genocide in the making in Burundi. Despite the clear danger facing the people of Burundi who have been left on their own to face a murderous regime, and with Africans all over the continent crying for salvation from political inequity, reversal of democracy and State-sponsored violence, the AU Summit concentrated its energies on how to pull Africa out of the International Criminal Court, which is currently the only mechanism for assuring the common Africans of the peace and justice that they crave.
The leaders prioritized exiting the Rome Statute even as AU rescinded its decision to deploy troops in Burundi because the incumbent, who stands accused in the eyes of his people, would not agree. The decision to not to deploy troops is a decision to stand with the incumbent and his murderous regime, against the helpless citizens of Burundi. The decision by the AU to make withdrawal from the Rome Statute the key issue at its meeting speaks volumes of the hypocrisy that has gotten over the Continent’s leadership. AU is pursuing the self-preservation of its member presidents at the expense of the Continent’s citizens.
One would have thought that saving lives and stopping the genocide in a member state would be priority to African leaders. Common sense would also dictate that talk of withdrawal from the ICC be preceded by presentation of alternative institutions and legal infrastructure to give Africans what they were looking for when they joined the ICC in the first place…mechanisms for justice and accountability against the Continent’s marauding leaders.
Many African countries have suffered from State-sanctioned human rights abuses and violence including recently in Darfur and Ivory Coast, without local mechanisms to ensure justice is done for the victims. The AU wants this state of affairs to continue. For the African Union to leave the ICC before this infrastructure is put up is to expose the population of Africa to marauding tyrants, many of them in control of State power, who can now carry out their atrocities in the comfort of the knowledge that they shall never be brought to account for their crimes against humanity. That is unacceptable. The international community needs to stand with the people of Burundi if Africa will not. In the meantime, African leaders must look themselves in the face and see how bad they look with this latest move.
This Continent has seen so much pain and shame. We must close, not reopen that chapter once and for all. The leaders must spare their people this hypocrisy.

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