Africa Theater

Mauritania crisis mediation fails; still no justice for enslaved Blacks

Political parties in Mauritania have to sign a framework agreement for peace, after Libya's leader and African Union chairman Moammar Qaddafi was accused of bias in his attempts at mediation. Opposition politicians walked out on a speech to parliament by Qaddafi, March 11, saying that he was siding with the military rulers who seized power in a coup last year.

International lines drawn in Sudan war crimes warrant

The Sudanese government announced March 14 that President Omar al-Bashir, wanted by the International Criminal Court (ICC) for war crimes in Darfur, would attend two consecutive summits scheduled for late March in the Qatari capital of Doha. The first is a meeting of the Arab League, to be followed by a meeting of Arab and Latin American leaders. The Arab League has officially rejected the ICC warrant, saying it threatens peace talks in Sudan. (Xinhua, AFP, March 14) Earlier this week, a delegation of officials from Iran, Hamas and Hezbollah joined Syria's parliament speaker and the leader of the Palestinian Islamic Jihad group traveled to Sudan to express international support for al-Bashir. (AlJazeera, March 7)

UN may investigate Sudan for expelling foreign aid groups

The UN High Commissioner for Human Rights spokesman Rupert Colville said March 6 that his office may investigate whether Sudan's expulsion of foreign aid agencies is a breach of human rights law or war crime. UN High Commissioner for Refugees spokesman Ron Redmond warned that the removal of the aid agencies could have a serious impact not only in Darfur, but also in the rest of Sudan and the region.

ICC charges Sudan president with war crimes, not genocide

The International Criminal Court (ICC) March 4 issued an arrest warrant for Sudanese President Omar al-Bashir, charging him with seven counts of war crimes and crimes against humanity, but declining to charge him with genocide. The warrant had been sought by ICC prosecutor Luis Moreno-Ocampo, who in July filed preliminary charges against al-Bashir alleging genocide, crimes against humanity, and war crimes committed in the Darfur region in violation of Articles 6, 7, and 8 of the Rome Statute. This is the first time the ICC has issued an arrest warrant against a sitting head of state.

Somalia president announces support for sharia

Somali President Sharif Sheikh Ahmed said Feb. 28 that he would support the imposition of a "moderate" form of sharia law as part of a cease-fire agreement with the Hizb al-Islamiya and al-Shabaab rebels. Ahmed said, however, he would not agree to provisions that would prohibit girls from attending school, require women to wear headscarves, or ban music and television. Ahmed made the concession at the behest of Islamic religious groups that are mediating the conflict between the government and the rebels, but reports quoted rebels denying that a peace agreement had been made. Members of the country's parliament, which would have to approve implementing sharia in order for it to take effect, have expressed support for such a proposal.

Rwanda tribunal convicts former priest of genocide

The International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda (ICTR) sentenced former priest Emmanuel Rukundo to 25 years imprisonment Feb. 27 after convicting him of genocide, crimes against humanity and sexual assault. Rukundo, who was a military chaplain and captain in the Rwandan Armed Forces, was found to have used his position as a priest to influence troops to abduct and kill Tutsi refugees hiding in a seminary during the 1994 Rwandan genocide. The ICTR stated that his sentence was increased because he used a position of trust and authority to further the crimes. It also credited Rukundo with the seven-and-a-half years he has already spent in UN custody, leaving the balance of his term at approximately 17 years.

Riots rock Madagascar

Security forces in Madagascar's capital fired teargas to disperse looters after an anti-government protest March 2. Thousands of opposition supporters took to the streets of Antananarivo to support sacked Mayor Andry Rajoelina's call for daily protests aimed at forcing President Marc Ravalomanana to step down. A power struggle between Rajoelina, a 34-year-old former disc jockey, and Ravalomanana has led to the worst civil unrest in years in the island nation, leaving 125 dead since the protest campaign began in late January. Two were killed Feb. 27 when police fired on a protest in the southern town of Fianarantsoa. (Reuters, March 2; AFP, Feb. 28)

Sudan peace accords breaking down?

Some 60 are confirmed dead, 100 wounded and an undetermined number displaced following clashes this week between the Sudan People's Liberation Army (SPLA) and supporters of a local militia commander whose forces are officially integrated with the Sudan Armed Forces (SAF) in Malakal, capital of Upper Nile state. The flare-up has renewed fears that conflict could resume in the region, two years before the end of the six-year interim period designated by the 2005 Sudan Comprehensive Peace Agreement (CPA).

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