South Africa tries to save Bashir’s hide

SALAH OMAR/AFP/Getty Images Earlier this month, the International Criminal Court charged Sudanese President Omar Hassan al-Bashir with genocide for atrocities committed in the ongoing Darfur conflict. Proclaiming his innocence, Bashir responded in the way that any peace-loving leader concerned over his citizens would — by threatening to murder even more people. The ICC’s announcement was ...

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593663_080729_mbeki5.jpg

SALAH OMAR/AFP/Getty Images

Earlier this month, the International Criminal Court charged Sudanese President Omar Hassan al-Bashir with genocide for atrocities committed in the ongoing Darfur conflict. Proclaiming his innocence, Bashir responded in the way that any peace-loving leader concerned over his citizens would -- by threatening to murder even more people.

The ICC's announcement was by no means binding. The United Nations Security Council has split over a proposal by Libya and South Africa to prevent Bashir's indictment. The United States, Britain and France appeared to be quite skeptical of this plan, but South Africa has argued that prosecuting Bashir would jeopardize African Union efforts at peacekeeping in the region. South African President Thabo Mbeki explained that the peace process "require[s] very serious input by Bashir" and said "it doesn't help at this time to be considering these indictments."

SALAH OMAR/AFP/Getty Images

Earlier this month, the International Criminal Court charged Sudanese President Omar Hassan al-Bashir with genocide for atrocities committed in the ongoing Darfur conflict. Proclaiming his innocence, Bashir responded in the way that any peace-loving leader concerned over his citizens would — by threatening to murder even more people.

The ICC’s announcement was by no means binding. The United Nations Security Council has split over a proposal by Libya and South Africa to prevent Bashir’s indictment. The United States, Britain and France appeared to be quite skeptical of this plan, but South Africa has argued that prosecuting Bashir would jeopardize African Union efforts at peacekeeping in the region. South African President Thabo Mbeki explained that the peace process “require[s] very serious input by Bashir” and said “it doesn’t help at this time to be considering these indictments.”

The only thing less surprising than South Africa’s president trying to give a free ride to someone who has committed war crimes against his own people is that they’re joined on this mission by the humanitarians in Beijing. China’s envoy to Sudan warned last week that the ICC’s steps and Bashir’s indictment could imperil the peace process in Darfur.

This logic actually makes sense. Bashir, China, and passive African leaders have been instrumental in the implementation of Darfur’s genocide, so it follows that they play an active role in solving it, and it’s even more important that they avoid repercussions for their actions.

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