The proposal for such a mass boycott was made at this weekâ€™s summit of the AU in Addis Ababa, but Mozambican Foreign Minister Oldemiro Baloi, who represented President Filipe Nyusi at the summit, has pointed out that it is up to each individual member state to decide whether to stay in or to leave the ICC.
Speaking to reporters on his return from Addis Ababa, Baloi said that joining organizations and signing treaties, or withdrawing from them, is â€œa sovereign actâ€, and the decision cannot be taken collectively.
Baloi said the same question had come up within the Southern African Development Community (SADC) â€œand we always rejected this collective movementâ€. The intention might be good, he added, but joining or pulling out from the ICC was always a sovereign act of each member state.
â€œEach country takes such action individuallyâ€, he stressed, â€œand obviously we in Mozambique do not have this intentionâ€.
He understood why AU member states were unhappy about the ICC. â€œWe share the concernsâ€, said Baloi, â€œand we think we should put pressure on the ICC to treat all continents equally, but the path forward cannot necessarily en exit en masse.
He condemned the ICCâ€™s attitude of not taking Africa seriously. Baloi said that when a delegation of African foreign ministers recently visited Rome to discuss the relationship between the AU and the ICC, they were met by what he described as â€œminor officialsâ€, and not by anybody with decision making power.
â€œThis disturbed Africaâ€, he said, â€œand it was when we asked: what are we, as Africans, doing in the Court?â€
So far three AU members â€“ Gambia, Burundi and South Africa â€“ have announced their intention to withdraw from the ICC. But the Gambian decision was made by the regime of the demented autocrat Yahya Jammeh who claimed he could cure AIDS, threatened to cut off the heads of gay people, and boasted that he would rule the country for a billion years. Last month he was forced into exile, and the duly elected opposition leader Adama Barrow became President and promised to reverse his predecessorâ€™s position towards the ICC.
Burundi is ruled by President Pierre Nkurunziza, who was elected to a third term of office in 2015, against the background of an opposition boycott, and violent repression of protests, in which over 300 people were killed, He is accused of human rights abuses, included shutting down the independent media.
The situation in Burundi is now under investigation by the ICC, which is no doubt why Nkurunziza wants to pull Burundi out.
As for South Africa, the surprising call for withdrawal from the ICC is strongly opposed by opposition parties, and by South Africaâ€™s vibrant civil society.
The main complaint against the ICC is that it allegedly â€œtargetsâ€ African countries. But in fact several of the cases under ICC investigation were referred to the ICC by African governments themselves (Uganda, Democratic Republic of Congo, Central African Republic and Mali). The case which has raised most concern among certain African leaders are the war crimes in Darfur, allegedly committed by Sudanese President Omar Al-Bashir. That case was referred to the ICC by the United Nations Security Council.
The men convicted by the ICC of war crimes and crimes against humanity are the Congolese warlords Thomas Lubanga. Germain Katanga and Jean-Pierre Bemba, and the Malian Islamist, Ahmad Al-Mahdi, who was responsible for attacking religious and historic buildings in Timbuktu.Post published in: Africa News