Malawi drafts response to ICC on Bashir case

Malawi Government is reported to have designed a response to the Hague based International Criminal Court (ICC) following a request to submit an explanation on why it failed to arrest Sudanese ruler Omar Hassan al-Bashir during his recent visit to the country.

Bashir, facing ten counts of war charges, crimes against humanity and genocide he allegedly masterminded in the Darfur region, was in Malawi alongside six other presidents attending the two-day 15th Summit for the 19-member Common Market for Eastern and Southern Africa (COMESA).

The judges of the ICC issued a statement on October 18, 2011 to Malawi through the Malawi Embassy at the European Union in Brussels, Belgium requesting it to submit a report on the matter before Friday, 11 November 2011.

And sources at Capital Hill, the hub of Malawi government business, told Nyasa Times,Ministers of Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation and Justice and Constitutional Affairs had drafted the response to beat the November 11 deadline.

Foreign Minister Peter Mutharika: Response drafted

“The response was drafted and the people working on it were only waiting for President Bingu wa Mutharika’s consent before it could be sent to ICC,” a source at the Ministry of Justice and Constitutional Affairs told Nyasa Times.

She added: “Actually the delay came about because of the president himself who showed unwillingness at first to submit an explanation to the court before his brother [Peter Mutharika] convinced him to cooperate and respond.”

However, the source could not exactly say what government position is for its inaction to execute an arrest warrant issued for the Sudanese president.

“They are keeping the contents very secretive. May be we will know what is inside once the president gives a go ahead to send, otherwise at the moment what is known is that it is waiting for the president approval before being dispatched to the Hague,” she explained.

Malawi is a member of ICC but the Mutharika administration ignored an arrest warrant for the genocide suspect and bluntly told the world it could not arrest Bashir for visiting Malawi as the Hague-based war crimes court knew exactly where to get him.

Malawi is the second African state after Chad to be requested by the ICC judges to provide an explanation on breaching its treaty obligations.

While in Malawi, Bashir, who is the first sitting head of state to be indicted by ICC, since its inception in 2002 was accorded a protocol of a head of state with a full military honours.

Despite Malawi being a member of the ICC, President Mutharika, another tyrant, is a known critic of the court and this was confirmed during his era as the chairman of African Union in 2010 when he implore fellow African Presidents not to allow African leaders to be dragged to the Hague for offences they committ on the African continent.

Since an arrest warrant was issued to Bashir, only Malawi, Kenya, Chad and Djibouti are the only African ICC members that have so far allowed the Sudanese dictator to freely visit their countries.

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