African Union wants Mbeki to head Darfur panel

The African Union has asked former South African leader Thabo Mbeki to head a panel on how to reconcile the need for accountability in Darfur.

African Union wants Mbeki to head Darfur panel

The African Union has asked former South African leader Thabo Mbeki to head a panel on how to reconcile the need for accountability in Darfur.

Jean Ping, the chairman of the AU Commission, made the announcement on Thursday at a meeting of the continent's foreign ministers ahead of a Feb. 1-3 AU summit in Ethiopia.

"I have written to President Mbeki to ask him to chair a high level panel to submit recommendations on how best to reconcile the fight against impunity (in Darfur) while also dealing with reconciliation and forgiveness," Ping said.

Ping gave no other details about his plan for Mbeki.

The chief prosecutor of the International Criminal Court (ICC) has accused Sudanese President Omar Hassan al-Bashir of orchestrating genocide and crimes against humanity in Darfur.

International experts say 200,000 people have died and more than 2.5 million have been driven from their homes in the remote western region since mostly non-Arab rebels took up arms against the government in 2003. Khartoum puts the death toll at 10,000.

Fighting has escalated there ahead of the expected decision by the ICC judges. Bashir and his top political allies have repeatedly said they will not deal with the global court, which they dismiss as part of a Western conspiracy.

Tanzania's Bernard Membe, who heads the Executive Council of AU foreign ministers, said the success of the mission depended on getting maximum cooperation from Bashir's government.

The AU has called for any indictment to be suspended.

"Most of us are members of the ICC, and much as most of us don't condone atrocities, the solution that we are seeking in Darfur must seek the cooperation of the government," he said.

"The cooperation of the government cannot come if we'll be deploying our troops at the same time as President Bashir is indicted. It will bring a contradiction and the peace process will be brought to a halt."

Reuters
Last Mod: 29 Ocak 2009, 15:06
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