, VOA News|
Addis Ababa 18 March 2009
|Former SA President Thabo Mbeki|
A high-level panel led by former South African President Thabo Mbeki has begun work exploring a possible African-led solution to the crisis in Darfur. The panel’s opening session heard strong calls for a deferment of International Criminal Court war crimes indictments against Sudan’s President Omar al-Bashir.
The eight-member high-level panel includes three former African heads of state. South Africa’s Thabo Mbeki is joined by Burundi’s Pierre Buyoya and Nigeria’s General Abusalam Abubakar.
South Africa’s foreign minister, Nkozasana Dlamini-Zuma, was quoted recently as saying Mr. Mbeki’s role on the panel would be to intercede between Sudan and the International Criminal Court.
Speakers during the opening session at AU headquarters argued the ICC indictments against President Bashir undermine efforts to bring peace to Darfur, and ignore a unanimous appeal from African leaders for a deferment of the process.