Botswana supports Malawi snub on Bashir, condemns AU

Botswana has commended the Malawi Government for its bold decision in cancelling next month’s African Union summit other than let Sudanese President Omar al-Bashir, under indictment by the International Criminal Court for crimes against humanity, to attend.

The African Union decided Monday to move the July 9-16 summit to Ethiopia’s capital, Addis Ababa.

The decision by Malawi not to allow al-Bashir enter the country has led to widespread reaction throughout Africa with Botswana openly coming out in the open to condemn the Commission’s stance.

President of Botswana, Ian Khama: Support Banda's bold decision

In a media statement issued on Thursday, Botswana government said it was “deeply concerned” about the pressure exerted by the AU Commission on Malawi to commit to hosting President Al Bashir.

“Unfortunately, this pressure has consequently, led to the summit being moved to Addis Ababa, thus depriving Malawi to host the meeting. Botswana therefore condemns this action as it is inconsistent with the very fundamental principles of democracy, human rights and good governance espoused by the AU, and which Malawi upholds,” the statement,  obtained by Nyasa Times, issued by the Public Relations, Research and Information Department of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation says.

The statement adds: “It is our considered view that Malawi as a sovereign state has the right to make decisions it may deem necessary, in fulfilment of her obligations under both the Rome Statute and the AU. In this regard, Botswana will take the opportunity at the forthcoming AU Summit to put its case across on this important matter of principle.”

Last month, the Botswana President Lieutenant General Seretse Khama Ian Khama encouraged his Malawian counterpart, Mrs Joyce Banda, not to allow al Bashir enter the country and ensure that he is arrested should he insist.

Malawi refused to host al Bashir because of her international obligations as she is a signatory to the Rome Statute she signed in 1999 that obliges her to refrain from acts which would defeat the
objectives of the ICC treaty.

After Lilongwe blocked al Bashir from taking part at the planned July 9-16 summit Khartoum urged the AU Commission to move the summit to its headquarters in Addis Ababa, which the Commission did.

Meanwhile, opposition United Democratic Front (UDF) president Friday Jumbe and his deputy Sam Mpasu have backed President Banda’s decisions not to allow Bashir come to Malawi.

Jumbe and Mpasu said in separate radio interview that Banda’s decision saves Malawi from the threat of another round of economic sanctions from donor countries.

Late president Bingu wa Mutharika allowed Bashir to visit Malawi in October 2011 to attend the summit of Common Market for Eastern and Southern Africa (COMESA a development that angered most Western donors and some of the African nations.

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