A warlord goes free

The International Criminal Court has released Congolese warlord Mathieu Ngudjolo Chui, acquitted last week on charges of war crimes and crimes against humanity:

Today, 21 December 2012, Mathieu Ngudjolo Chui was released from custody following his acquittal by Trial Chamber II of the International Criminal Court (ICC). The Prosecutor has however appealed the verdict.

Mathieu Ngudjolo Chui will remain temporarily in The Netherlands until the travel ban imposed by the United Nations is lifted to allow him to return to the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC). The release of Mr Ngudjolo Chui is being made taking into account his opinion, according to ICC legal texts. Mathieu Ngudjolo Chui has expressed interest in returning to the DRC if the security situation allows.

The Multilateralist

The UN's other Mali objective

Yesterday, the UN Security Council approved a resolution authorizing the dispatch of an international force to Mali. The resolution authorized the force, which will be African-led, to help Mali's transitional government recover control of northern territory now held by a motley group of Islamic extremists and other rebels. The UN's move got plenty of attention worldwide. In Mali, rebel representatives decried the move while the government welcomed it:

[A]ddressing reporters Friday after meeting in Algeria, the two [rebel] groups lashed out at the Security Council's unanimous decision Thursday to back West African plans for a 3,300-troop intervention.

"We denounce this decision. We have always denounced the (planned) military intervention and we have said that it is not the solution," said Ansar Dine representative Mohamed Ag Akharib.

The statements came after Mali's government hailed the Security Council decision on the West African intervention plan as a sign that the world would not abandon the country.

"We are grateful to the international community, a consensus has been reached on the Malian situation," said an advisor to Mali's interim president, Dioncounda Traore.

In Mali and internationally, very little attention has been paid to the resolution's quite remarkable attempts to impose discipline on Mali's own armed forces. Earlier this month, Mali's army deposed the sitting prime minister, a move that generated broad international condemnation. The Council resolution makes clear that the Council reserves the right to act against against those responsible for further disruptions to the political process:

[The Council] reiterates its demand that no member of the Malian Armed Forces should interfere in the work of the Transitional authorities and expresses its readiness to consider appropriate measures, as necessary, against those who take action that undermines the peace, stability, and security, including those who prevent the implementation of the constitutional order in Mali...[emphasis added]   

Moreover, the resolution stipulates that offensive operations by the international force should not occur until there is adequate progress on restoring Mali's constitutional order. In effect, the Council holds out the possibility of international action against northern rebels as an inducement for the interim government and military to get their own affairs in order.