Khartoum — President Omar Bashir returned on Saturday from Ethiopia where he was honored as a "Champion of African Dignity" by academics at the Ethiopian Addis Ababa University, to a hero welcome in Khartoum with thousands coming to the airport to greet him.
In a live broadcast from Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, on Friday the national TV aired the full session of the closing session of the African Dignity Forum where President Bashir received African Dignity Award for being a "symbol of resistance", his strong leadership and his commitment for African institutions.
But Bashir said in his award accepting statement that his government "does not rebel against the international community but rather rejects injustice" a reference to the international Criminal Court with which Sudan refuses to cooperate.
The Award was given to Al Bashir by the African Dignity forum which at the end of its five day deliberation selected an African leader to be honored as symbol of African dignity.
"The honor put a responsibility upon me and my colleagues the leaders of African countries to step up our struggle against discrimination and injustice", the president said in his statement, delivered Friday in Addis Ababa, and carried out by the official Sudan news agency SUNA on Saturday.
Bashir along with a number of African leaders, believe the international criminal court is targeting only African leaders. Eight of the nine prosecution cases opened by the ICC, which was Established in 2002, involved African nations which are: Kenya, Ivory Coast, Libya, Sudan, Democratic Republic of Congo, Central African Republic, Uganda, Mali and, most recently, Georgia.
Bashir is the only president in power to be sought by the court for trial on charges of war crimes. Bashir, though persistently denying any wrong doing, refuses to cooperate with the court and defies its arrest warrant by travelling to countries that are members of the Rome statute, the basis upon which the court was established.
Of recently the African union has formed a committee of foreign ministers to approach the ICC and the security council to reconsider this situation, underlining that the union members might pull out of the court altogether.
The forum that took place from July 25 to 29 was organized by Addis Ababa University, UN University for Peace, Institute of Peace and Conflict Studies African Network.
Congratulating the recognized personalities, Ethiopia Minister of Federal and Pastoral Development Affairs, Kassa Tekelebirhan, said the panelist scholars had serious discussions about dignity in general and African dignity in particular, which can be a lesson for a series of African dignity forums to come.
Bashir told the crowds that greeted him at Khartoum airport that the honour was meant for the whole African people to stand in face of challenges and plots that are woven by some western circles against the continent.
He vowed that those seeking to tame him would not achieve their goals because "we will bow to nobody but Allah".
The Addis Ababa University (AAU) launched the Forum collaboratively with UN University for Peace (UP-EACE), ISESCO, Islamic Educational Scientific and Cultural Organization, the International Relations Institute in Cameroon, the Institute for Peace and Conflict Studies African Network, Tanzania, and Centre for the Study of Peace and Human Rights, Sudan.
The organizers say the forum was seeking to reclaim African dignity. The forum sought to underline that African problems could and should be resolved by Africans and that Africans have so many things in common.
The debates also stressed that while most of the conflicts are found in African continent, it was ironic that Africans are not given a permanent seat within the veto wielding members, nor was it having an upper hand in the IMP or the WB while at the same time the ICC was mainly targeting African leaders so far.
Launching the Forum, Ethiopia's Deputy Premier Demeke Mekonnen said that Ethiopia is always at the forefront in the struggle for the respect of African people's dignity as exemplified in the support for 'African solutions for African problems' which is championed academically by the Institute for Peace and Security Studies of the AAU.
The Deputy Premier also underscored the importance of the Forum referring to two reasons. "First, Africans have so much in common, and second our problems can sustainably be resolved by ourselves."
According to him, African Dignity will not be limited to one event, it rather be an outcome of group of events of which the launch of the event will remain amongst the most important ones.
Meanwhile the University of Peace (UPEACE) African Regional Programme Director Dr. Samuel Kale was quoted by The Ethiopian Herald that the African Dignity Forum is to provide introspection into the challenges that Africans face in a skewed global environment.
It quoted the official as stressing that "Africa is not a new continent; it is a cradle of human kind. In consequence, Africans need to demand respect and dignity. We should not to be looked as inferior in the global environment."
He also unequivocally stated: "Injustices befallen on Africa" of which UN denial of permanent seat for Africa in the Security Council while the fact on the ground shows that 70 per cent of world conflict is roaming in Africa.
He also said that global institutions such as IMF and the World Bank are not working to the demands of African people.
He sharply criticized ICC for gearing its operations towards mostly Africans. "In consequence," he said, "The Forum will speak louder to smash these injustices and to enlighten the global society."