Contact: Achieng Akena at + 251 91 212 0252 and Oladapo Awosokanre at + 251 912 129 331
Decision on AU Presidency: African NGOs Petition African Governments to Protect Darfur
(ADDIS ABBABA, 26 January 2023): At a press conference in Addis Ababa today a coalition of non-governmental organizations (NGOs) from across the continent presented a signed petition urging African leaders to consider the dire situation of millions of war affected civilians in Darfur.
African Heads of State will meet next Monday in Addis Ababa as part of the 8th African Union Summit.
Introducing the petition, which carrys the signatures of over five hundred representatives and delegates of non-governmental organisations attending the World Social Forum in Nairobi earlier this week, Achieng Akena, a spokesperson for the Darfur Consortium, described the “deep concern” felt by African and international civil society about the ongoing crisis in Darfur.
Mr Awosokoanre, of the Centre for Research Education and Development of Rights in Africa (CREDO-Africa), a member of the Consortium and one of those who led the Nairobi events, pointed out that the situation for civilians in Darfur had massively deteriorated in recent months. “All indications are that Darfur is on the brink of an even greater disaster than we have witnessed to date”.
It was essential, he said, that African States made renewed efforts to protect the people of Darfur. “The fate of millions of Africans hangs in the balance.”
The petition urges the African Union to compel the Government of Sudan to comply with its obligations to protect its population through:
- Halting the military scale up in Darfur and disarming the janjaweed militias responsible for a large part of the violence;
- Urgently agreeing and implementing a timetable of deployment of a hybrid protection force to Darfur by the United Nations and the African Union;
- Ensuring adequate access to Darfur by humanitarian personnel and the media;
- Reopening meaningful political negotiations with all parties, including the non-signatories to the Darfur Peace Agreement.
The petition also calls upon African leaders to facilitate the deployment of peacekeepers to Chad where over a half a million displaced are desperately in need of security. It also suggests that African states need to send more African troops to Darfur.
The petition in particular highlighted the fact that the AU was faced with an organisational decision in the coming week which would critically impact the possibility of peace in Darfur.
“A decision on the AU Presidency in Addis must not comprise the neutrality and independence of the AU’s operation in Darfur” said Mr Alioune Tine, the Secretary General of the Senegalese organisation Rencontre Africaine Des Droits de l’Homme. He urged African States not to elect Sudan as the President of the 53 member regional organisation. It would, he said, create a dangerous conflict of interest.
He pointed out that the inter-state character of the Darfur conflict – with Chad, the Central African Republic and Sudan all alleging mutual aggression – made the independent mediation role of the AU at this time even more critical: “Sudan cannot be the judge of conflicts in which it is involved” he said.
Finally Mr Tine declared his belief that, “African opinion will never accept a choice of Mr Bashir as President of the African Union. Such a move will discredit the institution and diminish the image of the African Union as an independent arbitrator in the eyes of the world”.
Action Professionals Association for the People
Aegis Trust Rwanda
African Centre for Democracy and Human Rights Studies
African Center for Development
African Society of International and Comparative Law
African Women's Development and Communications Network (FEMNET)
The Ahueni Foundation
Alliances for Africa
Amman Centre for Human Rights Studies
Andalus Institute for Tolerance
Arab Program for Human Rights Activists
Cairo Institute for Human Rights Studies
Centre for Minority Rights Development (CEMIRIDE)
Centre for Research Education and Development of Freedom of Expression and Associated Rights (CREDO)
Citizens for Global Solutions
Conseil national pour les libertés en Tunisie
Darfur Alert Coalition
Darfur Centre for Human Rights and Development
Darfur Relief and Documentation Centre
Egyptian Organization for Human Rights
La Fédération Internationale des Droits de l'Homme (FIDH)
Femmes Africa Solidarité
Human Rights Centre, University of Pretoria
Human Rights First
Human Rights Institute of South Africa (HURISA)
Institute for Human Rights and Development in Africa
Inter-African Union for Human Rights (UIDH)
International Commission of Jurists
International Refugee Rights Initiative
Justice and Peace Commission
Lawyers for Human Rights
Lebanese Association for Democratic Elections
Legal Resources Consortium-Nigeria
Ligue Tunisienne des Droits de l'Homme
Makumira University College, Tumaini University
Minority Rights Group
National Association of Seadogs
Open Society Justice Initiative
People Against Injustice (PAIN)
Rencontre Africaine Pour la Defense des Droits de l'Homme (RADDHO)
Sudan Organization Against Torture
Socio-Economic Rights and Accountability Project (SERAP)
Sudanese Refugee Association in South Africa
Syrian Organization for Human Rights
Universal Human Rights Network
World Organization Against Torture