Opinion: Bashir’s Arrest Escape Debunks Myth Of Africa’s Democratization

Opinion: Bashir’s Arrest Escape Debunks Myth Of Africa’s Democratization

By Ludger Schadomsky | From DW

“Omar al-Bashir flees from the AU summit,” International headlines screamed on July 16, 2013. That was almost two years ago when al-Bashir was able to escape possible detention by Nigerian prosecutors by leaving the country prematurely.

The outcry in parts of Africa was great – the strongest condemnation coming from the South African government. Bashir is wanted by the International Criminal Court to answer charges of genocide, war crimes and crimes against humanity committed in the western Sudanese province of Darfur. South Africa promised to arrest the fugitive leader should he ever dare to enter South African soil.

And then Al-Bashir dared. He flew in for the summit of the 25th African Union summit in Johannesburg. But on Monday, in defiance of an arrest warrant given by a South African court, al-Bashir departed to Khartoum – jetting out from a military base near Pretoria with the active support of the very same South African government. Just as it was in Nigeria, local human rights groups in South Africa had filed for his warrant.

Shift from the democratic course

The two incidents should not come as a surprise as the Sudanese president continues to explore the boundaries of African solidarity. With all its lip service exposed, the South African government now finds itself drawn into the al-Bashir debate. On June 5, South Africa’s Foreign Minister Maite Nkoana-Mashabane, had assured diplomatic immunity to all delegates attending the AU Summit.

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In the past two years, South Africa’s government has hardly been visible in the international arena. This makes their latest international arena engagement even more significant.

It marks a departure from the democratic course towards the BRICS alliance led by Russia and China.

Some African leaders may well have quietly welcomed the publicity surrounding Bashir, as it distracted attention from other pressing issues. Jacob Zuma was facing criticism from fellow leaders over the recent xenophobic attacks in his country. There was also a lack of progress over the European migration crisis at the AU summit. That issue may preoccupy European government leaders but not the African politicians who force hundreds of thousands to leave their respective countries.

Read more at DW