Vol.21 No.118

Wednesday 4 August 2004    

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Editorial
Africa rewards Bashir despite Darfur

Editor
8/4/2004 12:19:33 AM (GMT +2)

THE world finally appeared to show signs of waking up from its deep sleep last week when the United Nations passed a United States-backed resolution that calls on Sudan's leaders to "apprehend and bring to justice Janjaweed leaders" within 30 days. The resolution threatens that in the event of failure to comply, the Security Council will "consider the imposition of sanctions".


It is striking that much of the pressure on the Sudanese government has been coming from the United States and Britain. On Thursday, the US Congress declared Darfur's crisis "a genocide". This is a description that the African leaders - in their last month's meeting - could not use. There is no strong voice from Africa that speaks out against the human tragedy in Sudan.

Instead, the African leaders have seen it fit to reward the man who presides over the Khartoum regime - Omar el-Bashir - with the chairmanship of the African Union next year. It is of no consequence to the African leaders that Bashir's Islamic fundamentalist government has declared a "holy war" against African groups in southern Sudan - and that, as a result of this policy - more than two million people have been decimated, millions more have been internally displaced, and many others have been exiled.

The honour that the summit of the African Union has bestowed on Bashir - by accepting his invitation to host the next summit - is a sick joke. It brings to mind another sad joke from Africa's immediate past when the AU's predecessor the Organisation of African Unity (OAU) passed its chairmanship to the late Ugandan tyrant, Idi Amin. The past has come back to haunt Africa's present and future.

Nothing short of a reversal of the decision to hold the next summit in Khartoum would show that African leaders are serious about the continent's rebirth. To participate in the proceedings under the chairmanship of Bashir would not only be a vote of confidence in his handling of the Darfur tragedy, but would turn the other leaders into accomplices in Khartoum's genocidal policies. And history will be unkind to them.

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