The African Union (AU) has selected Zimbabwe for a place on its Peace and Security Council, one of the bloc’s most powerful organs, the organisation’s head of legal affairs says.
The southern African country is emerging from a period of international isolation after a power-sharing deal between President Robert Mugabe and Prime Minister Morgan Tsvangirai.
The Peace and Security Council is concerned with resolving conflicts between member states and with helping sort out domestic political turmoil. Other states picked late on Saturday for three year terms on the body were Kenya, Burundi and Equatorial Guinea.
Ben Kioko, the AU legal counsel said the trial of former Chadian ruler Hissene Habre would commence in the next few months, once the AU and the European Union have sorted out a trial budget and issues of procedure. Habre, president between 1982 and 1990, faces charges of crimes against humanity.
The EU became involved in the issue after Belgium issued an international arrest warrant for Habre in 2005. Belgium’s move to try him in Europe was rejected by the AU and the trial will take place in Senegal where Habre is exiled. “It is an issue (budget) that we should be able to finalise within the next two weeks,” he said.
A detailed plan to merge the African Court of Human and People’s Rights with the African Court of Justice, and to mandate the new entity to handle serious offences like war crimes, would be presented at the next summit of AU leaders in July, Kioko also said.
“The African judicial organs should be able to deal with cases relating to unconstitutional changes of government so that is also another axis we will be looking to confer jurisdiction upon the African court.”.
Pic: A soldier of Zimbabwe’s Presidential Guard on duty and armed with a SVD Dragunov 7.62mm x 54R sniper rifle