Africa

Media consider ICC 'dead' after Bashir exit

Hundreds of supporters welcome Sudanese President Omar al-Bashir, centre left, on his arrival from South Africa as he walks through the crowd at the airport in Khartoum Image copyright AP
Image caption President Bashir is greeted by supporters after arriving in Khartoum

Sudanese media are treating President Omar al-Bashir as a hero after he avoided being arrested in South Africa on the orders of the International Criminal Court (ICC), while commentators elsewhere deplore the decline in the court's reputation and clout.

Image copyright @khalidalbaih
Image caption This cartoon posted on social media by @khalidalbaih quotes a Sudanese poet: "Strut on your people's corpses like a peacock while they suffer hunger and illness."

Sudanese TV showed the triumphant arrival of the president back home in Khartoum, travelling around the airport in an open-top Landrover, with people chasing the vehicle and singing, "With our blood and souls we shall defend you, Bashir!"

Sudanese papers are painting his return as the final nail in the ICC's coffin after years of failing to have him arrested.

"Large crowds welcome Bashir and bury the ICC" reads a headline in Al-Ra'y al-Amm.

Alwan's editorial says smugly that "His Excellency the President, his advisors and his close circle knew that he would leave and come back without them touching a hair on his head."

Columnist Bashir Hamid Jum'ah sets a general tone of gushing praise in Al-Mijhar al-Siyasi, saying that the president is now a "star".

"Every summit will now want to have him as a participant, because he will give it a standing and a sense of glamour".

Image copyright AL Watan
Image caption Sudanese paper Al Watan says, "Al-Bashir returns to the country, is welcomed by large crowds"

Al-Watan's editorial thanks South Africa and the AU for proving they are "strong willed in confronting the new colonialism."

Other Sudanese commentators say that the incident leaves the ICC's reputation in tatters.

Dhia al-Din Balal writes in Al-Sudani: "The fact that most African countries who are signatories to the Rome Statute of the Hague Court received President Bashir means in practical terms that they have left the court's statute; actions always speak louder than words".

However, Al-Maydan newspaper, the mouthpiece of the opposition Sudanese Communist Party, defies the general tone of bravado, insisting that "Dafur crimes will not be dropped due to the passage of time."

'Snub'

Image copyright Die Burger
Image caption "Shame!.. and that's him leaving", says South Africa's Die Burger

South African newspapers are leading with AU chairperson Robert Mugabe's comments that President Zuma had allegedly promised the AU that Bashir would not be arrested. South Africa's Times Live illustrates the story with a picture of the two leaders grinning.

The Mail and Guardian further quotes Mugabe railing against the ICC, saying, "We don't want it in this region at all... The ICC was there to help us try cases, especially cases of violence in any country during an election, but those who signed are now regretting it."

The Cape Times focuses on a call by the governing African National Congress (ANC) for South Africa - and indeed the entire continent - to leave the ICC.

But a commentator in the Cape Argus paper is worried that South Africa's need to win friends and influence others in Africa is trumping its international obligations.

"It is prepared to snub those who believed South Africa was still committed to international justice... The real winner is impunity," writes Jeremy Sarkin.

"Hopefully, the courts remain the beacon of hope and ensure that South Africa is held to its international obligations, and that there are consequences for it not doing so. The world needs an ICC that can hold accountable those who commit international crimes. "

'Flawed institution'

The New York Times points the finger of blame for President Bashir's escape squarely on Pretoria.

"This could not have happened without the complicity of the South African government, which deserves international condemnation," it says in an editorial. "The biggest losers are the innocent victims of Mr Bashir's cruel policies in Darfur who are still being denied justice."

The paper warns that "South Africa cannot help but compromise its leadership position in Africa if it insists on reneging on its international commitments and protecting ruthless leaders accused of war crimes."

The UK's Independent has no illusions that South Africa will be held to account, saying the ICC has no teeth. "Realpolitik usually triumphs over international justice. Like so many other flawed institutions, the ICC is all we have, and we should support it, but it is not much of a threat to anyone."

BBC Monitoring reports and analyses news from TV, radio, web and print media around the world. You can follow BBC Monitoring on Twitter and Facebook.

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