African heads of state should refuse Sudan' bid for AU presidency, says Amnesty

Amnesty International today urged African state leaders to address the critical human rights challenges confronting the continent – in particular the abuses in Kenya and Sudan which continue unabated.

The call came as the heads of states met for the African Union Assembly taking place in Addis Ababa.

Kolawole Olaniyan, Amnesty International’s Legal Advisor on Africa said:
“As the heads of state gather, they must keep at the forefront of their minds the massive human rights problems ordinary Africans are facing – and do whatever they can to tackle these problems and work towards finding solutions.”

Amnesty published a short memorandum of recommended actions to the AU which focused on the ongoing human rights violations in Sudan and Kenya. The memorandum also called on the AU Assembly to reject Sudan’s bid to become president of the AU.

Kolawole Olaniyan continued:
“It is very worrying that Sudan is again interested in becoming chair of the AU when it is continuing to commit gross human rights violations in Darfur – and is failing to cooperate fully with UNAMID [the UN-AU hybrid peacekeeping force in Darfur].

“We urge the AU not to grant Sudan its chairmanship.

“This would not only be a conflict of interest – given that Sudan is a party to a conflict that the AU is playing a critical role in resolving – but also a slap in the face for the hundreds of thousands of victims of this protracted and violent human rights crisis.”

Sudan failed in its bids for the AU Presidency in 2006 and 2007 following public backlash against the government’s continuing targeting of civilians and blocking of peacekeeping operations necessary to protect civilians.

Kolawole Olaniyan continued:
“If given the presidency of the AU, Sudan would be in a position to effectively negotiate with itself over the conflict in Darfur – clearly a ridiculous and untenable situation.

“The AU Assembly must take this opportunity to publicly condemn the Sudanese government’s obstruction of UNAMID’s work and press them to cooperate fully with UNAMID immediately.

“African heads of state must press the Kenyan government and political leaders to take all lawful measures to ensure an immediate halt to the violence and publicly declare their commitment to respecting and protecting the human rights of all Kenyan citizens.”

For a full copy of Amnesty International’s recommendations to the AU Assembly, please contact the press office.

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