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Cablegate: Tanzania Opposes Icc Indictment of President Bashir

VZCZCXYZ0007
RR RUEHWEB

DE RUEHDR #0447 2010913
ZNR UUUUU ZZH
R 190913Z JUL 08
FM AMEMBASSY DAR ES SALAAM
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC 7715
INFO RUEHDS/AMEMBASSY ADDIS ABABA 3328
RUEHNR/AMEMBASSY NAIROBI 0972
RUEHNJ/AMEMBASSY NDJAMENA
RUEHKH/AMEMBASSY KHARTOUM 0094

UNCLAS DAR ES SALAAM 000447

AF/E FOR JKNIGHT, SHAMILTON AND JLIDDLE
ALSO SUDAN PROGRAM GROUP TSHORTLEY
ALSO FOR S/WCI AMD FOR IO
ADDIS FOR AU MISSION

SIPDIS

E.O. 12958: N/A
TAGS: PGOV PHUM PREL EGAD SU TZ

SUBJECT: TANZANIA OPPOSES ICC INDICTMENT OF PRESIDENT BASHIR

1. (U) SUMMARY: The Minister of Foreign Affairs, Bernard Membe,
spoke out at France's national day reception on July 14 against the
request for the prosecutors of the International Criminal Court
(ICC) to indict Sudan's President Omar Bashir for genocide. Membe
said that such a move could lead to instability in the region and
invite chaos. He called upon the court to stay its hand and for the
U.N. Security Council to use its influence to prevent any ICC action
against President Bashir at this time. On July 15, Membe held a
joint press conference with the Sudanese ambassador to Tanzania to
elaborate on the Government of Tanzania's (GOT) position. END
SUMMARY

Surprise Bastille Day Announcement
----------------------------------
2. (U) Many of the assembled guests of the French Ambassador to
Tanzania were taken by surprise during the France's National Day
Celebration by the comments of the Minister for Foreign Affairs and
International Cooperation, Bernard Membe. Minister Membe appeared
at the event to issue the customary congratulations from the GOT to
the French on their National Day. While he began his remarks by
initially praising the decision announced earlier that day by the
International Criminal Court (ICC) to indict Sudan President Omar
Hassan al-Bashir on charges of genocide, he unexpectedly turned his
remarks into criticism of the move, going on to say that this move
would most certainly lead to "chaos for the region."

Membe's Press Conference with Sudanese Ambassador
---------------------------------------------
3. (U) On July 15, a joint press conference was called at the
Ministry of Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation (MFA) with
Minister Membe and Sudan's ambassador to Tanzania, Abdel Bagi
Kabeir. Membe said President Kikwete, after in depth discussions
with African Union (AU) members, had determined that this is not the
right time to indict President Bashir. Membe said President
Kikwete's view is that this action would create a leadership vacuum
in Sudan which could lead to more bloodshed. Membe actually
described the situation as akin to the situation in Iraq. He also
mentioned the unlikelihood of the Sudanese people handing over their
president to the ICC and that the resulting "tug of war" would lead
to chaos and violence.

4. (U) Minister Membe cited the Comprehensive Peace Agreement that
the Sudanese government signed with the Sudan People's Liberation
Army (SPLA) as an example of a positive step already taken towards
solving the problems in Sudan. He said that this step was moving
Sudan towards new elections, a new parliament, and a new government
in the very near future. Membe feared the arrest of President
Bashir would only serve to escalate violence in the region spreading
from Darfur to southern Sudan. He also predicted an invasion by
Chad by those who would take advantage of the ensuing chaos.

5. (U) Membe also noted that the position of the African Union was
that the ICC judges should not only consider the evidence against
President Bashir in their decision for indictment, but they should
also consider the circumstances in Sudan and order the postponement
of the indictment proceedings. He said that President Kikwete would
ask that the international community wait for the results of the
ongoing efforts to help Sudan bring about stability through new
elections, the formation of a new parliament, and the establishment
of a new government, all of which were already in the implementation
stage. Minister Membe added that he would also ask the UN Security
Council to review the proposed indictment by applying Article 16 of
the Rome Statute in order to postpone the arrest.

6. (U) Sudan's Ambassador Kabeir said that it was highly unusual for
the International Criminal Court (ICC) to indict a sitting
president, and one who had been fully cooperative with the
international community. He said that this move totally disregarded
the positive progress that had been achieved in recent months in
Sudan. It was his view that the ICC was designed to step in where
there is a failed state situation with no working judicial system,
which is not the case for Sudan.

7. (U) Ambassador Kabeir added that Sudan is not a ratified member
of the ICC and therefore the ICC had no jurisdiction in this matter.
He said that Sudan had issued a limited appeal to the African Union
(AU) to mediate the conflict in Sudan and therefore would now appeal
to Tanzania, as the Chair of the African Union, for its assistance
in objecting to this move by the ICC.

GREEN

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