Njoroge Wachai at PostGlobal

Njoroge Wachai


Njoroge is a journalist who formerly worked for the Kenya-based People Daily. He was Africa Correspondent for the Science and Development Network (SciDev.net), a UK-based web site highlighting science and technology issues from developing countries. He also freelanced for the Switzerland-based Bulletin of the World Health Organization (WHO). Njoroge was a press fellow at the Wolfson College, University of Cambridge for four months in 2003, where he researched the role of alternative press in the democratization process in Africa. Njoroge currently lives in the U.S. He has studied Journalism and Technical Communication at the graduate level. Close.

Njoroge Wachai


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Ocampo's Faltering Prosecution

This week’s arrest warrant request from Luis Moreno-Ocampo, the Chief Prosecutor of The Hague-based International Criminal Court (ICC), for Sudan’s President Omar Hassan al-Bashir’s war-crimes in Darfur, has triggered quite the political and diplomatic kerfuffle. Many, especially human rights organizations, have hailed the move as significant as it will deter impunity.

But the Sudanese government, obviously, has expressed its indignation at the ICC and Mr. Ocampo. Soon after Ocampo announced the charges on Monday, al-Bashir’s supporters exploded in war shrieks and political diatribes against the ICC – and many countries seemed to support it.

In a rally held in Khartoum on Sunday, soon after word leaked that the announcement of the arrest warrant was imminent, al-Bashir’s supporters marched in the streets shouting: “Death to America! Death to Israel!” (Note that the U.S. and Israel aren’t signatories of the ICC and, therefore, don’t recognize it).

The Sudanese government swiftly branded Ocampo a criminal, and accused him of infusing politics into the Darfur crisis. Sudan’s Ambassador to the United Nations, Abdalmahmood Abdalhaleem Mohamad, warned Ocampo he would be held personally responsible for the aftermath of the indictment. The ambassador threatened that Sudan would explode into a fireball if the ICC issued an arrest warrant for al-Bashir. Of course, this was code language that there’d be more deaths, rapes and displacements in Darfur if the ICC didn’t abandon its treacherous machinations against al-Bashir.

Undoubtedly, this is the kind of rhetoric that doesn’t respond to the specific charges that Ocampo has lain down against al-Bashir. Sudan is gaining points in politicizing what clearly is wanton abuse of human rights in Darfur. And Ocampo, and the entire ICC fraternity, better be warned that al-Bashir and others suspected to have been involved in the Darfur atrocities won’t take the indictments lying down. They’ll fight tooth and nail to discredit them.

Sudan, buoyed by the oil boom, has enormous resources to destroy the credibility of Ocampo and the ICC, even when the whole world knows atrocities that amount to genocide have taken place in Darfur. And it’s succeeding on this front.

Internationally, Sudan has been mobilizing its forces. Already, China and Russia, Sudan’s two foremost supporters in the United Nations (U.N.) and key trading partners, are busy strategizing how to torpedo Ocampo’s quest for prosecution in an effort to solidify peace talks.

At the African Union (A.U.), Sudan seems to have scored a big one. Tanzania, the current A.U. Chair, has already voiced its disdain of the ICC. There’s even a talk that the A.U. will be lobbying hard to the U.N. Security Council to block the ICC from indicting al-Bashir.

Sudan, in a bid to galvanize support from the Muslim world, has called for an emergency meeting of the Arab League.

Sudan is already casting the indictment as a war between it and the West. Here’s what Sudan’s Ambassador to Kenya, Majok Guandong, has to say about the issue: “They are after our oil, nothing else. And we are united, we’ll not allow that.”

Now, in the face of Sudan’s onslaught, Ocampo and the ICC need to move in overdrive in order to demonstrate that their determination to prosecute al-Bashir is devoid of political motivations. Hiding under legalese won’t necessarily help the ICC cause.

Already, it seems Ocampo and the ICC are buckling under Sudan’s well-oiled propaganda machine.

Yesterday, for example, Ocampo announced he’d be seeking to prosecute the commanders of a Darfur rebel group involved in last year’s killing of ten AU peacekeepers. Many will see this as a PR spin by the ICC to deflect criticism by Khartoum that it’s impartial.

Additionally, there’s talk in ICC circles that al-Bashir could escape war crimes indictments if he surrenders two of his senior government officials who are accused of overseeing the killings in Darfur. Doesn’t this amount to politics? It has nothing to do with plea bargaining. If Ocampo and the ICC have incontrovertible evidence that al-Bashir is culpable in the deaths of hundreds of thousands of Darfurians, then they must not entertain any compromise.

If their highly publicized threats of indicting al-Bashir is just political posturing or mere maneuvers to goad him to hand over perpetrators of the Darfur atrocities, while he goes scot-free, the ICC ought to know it’s dancing on the graves of those who’ve died, injured or displaced by the Darfur violence.

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