ICC top gun in Africa to drum up support

THE president of the International Criminal Court (ICC) began a five-day visit to Africa yesterday to try to drum up support for the court, widely maligned on the continent over its indictment of Sudanese president Omar al-Bashir.

THE president of the International Criminal Court (ICC) began a five-day visit to Africa yesterday to try to drum up support for the court, widely maligned on the continent over its indictment of Sudanese president Omar al-Bashir.

ICC president Sang-Hyun Song kicked off his first visit to Africa since taking office in Tanzania. He becamehead of the ICC, which is based in The Hague, in March.

It was in March that the ICC issued a warrant for al-Bashir's arrest on charges of war crimes and crimes against humanity over the war in Sudan's western Darfur region.

Al-Bashir has denied the charges.

"It is of high importance to the International Criminal Court to maintain dialogue with the continent that has been engaged in every aspect of the court's work since its establishment," Song said.

Besides meetingforeign affairs and justice ministers in Tanzania, Song will also visit the tiny kingdom of Lesotho and the diamond-rich desert state of Botswana.

In Botswana, Song will be met by President Ian Khama, an outspoken critic of human rights abuses. In Lesotho, he will be met by Prime Minister Bethuel Pakalitha Mosisili.

He will also visit South Africa but would not meet the government or former president Thabo Mbeki, who was mandated by the AU to intervene on al-Bashir's behalf with the ICC. - Sapa

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