The government of The Gambia has expressed delight at the unanimous election of Mrs Fatou Bom Bensouda, a Gambian, to the high office of Prosecutor of the International Criminal Court (ICC) based in The Hague, Kingdom of the Netherlands.
Bensouda was the only name put to the 120 member states in yesterday's election at the United Nations headquarters in New York in which the ICC member states unanimously elected her to replace Luis Moreno-Ocampo next year.
In a media dispatch issued yesterday, the government of The Gambia on behalf of all Gambians and friends of The Gambia expressed profound gratitude and appreciation to all those countries, organizations and individuals whose efforts and sincere support made the election of Mrs Bensouda possible.
The dispatch reads: The government of The Gambia is pleased to announce for the information of the general public the unanimous election of Mrs Fatou Bom Bensouda our Gambian compatriot, to the high office of Prosecutor of the International Criminal Court (ICC) based in The Hague, Kingdom of the Netherlands.
This is the first time a Gambian is occupying such a high position in a global organization and is therefore a great pride for this country. In the first place, we give thanks to Allah Subhanahu wata'ala for His blessings for this country and for the election of Mrs Bensouda.
Consequently, the Government of the Gambia on behalf of all Gambians an friends of (The Gambia would like to express our profound gratitude and appreciation to all those countries, organizations and individuals whose effort and sincere support made the election of Mrs Bensouda possible.
Our special thanks go to the following: His Excellency, Sheikh Professor Alhaji Dr. Yahya A.J.J Jammeh for being the driving force behind Mrs Bensouda's nomination and election; the 70 countries which co-sponsored with the Government of The Gambia the candidature of Mrs Bensouda, all the ECOWAS Members States for their overwhelming support, the African Union for endorsing Mrs Bensouda as the African Candidate, the European Union, the Asian Countries, CARICOM countries and everyone else including Gambian officials and individuals for their unified support and efforts.
We request the Supreme Islamic Council, the Christian Council and individual Muslims and Christians to offer special prayers in our Mosques and Churches for Allah Subhanahu Wa Ta'ala to continue to bless The Gambia with more accolades and also to pray for Mrs Fatou Bom Bensouda for Divine guidance in the discharge of her duties as ICC Prosecutor, the dispatch ends.
Meanwhile, Bensouda, currently deputy prosecutor, will take over in June from Luis Moreno-Ocampo, the outspoken Argentine who has issued warrants against the likes of Sudan's President Omar al-Bashir and the late Libyan leader Col. Muammar Gaddafi.
The appointment of an African comes at a time when the ICC is almost exclusively focused on the continent. African nations frequently complain that the ICC has unfairly targeted them - all seven cases investigated by the court are in Africa - and the African Union pointedly pressed for Bensouda's appointment.
Diplomats who took part in the selection process yesterday praised Bensouda's independence, determination and qualifications. "I am working for the victims of Africa, they are African like me. That's where I get my inspiration and my pride," Bensouda said in a recent interview with the AFP news agency.
Many analysts say the ICC has become increasingly political and more susceptible to pressure which will be a challenge for Bensouda.
Richard Dicker, international justice specialist of the Human Rights Watch's said that in its first decade of existence "the ICC profile has been lifted on the world stage to a new level".
Pressure also comes from major powers, with the US, China and Russia all trying to influence the court to varying degrees, even though they are not members, diplomats said. However, Stephen Lamony, an Africa specialist for the Coalition for the ICC, a group of non-government groups that back the court, said Bensouda's appointment may not increase the court's acceptance within Africa.
"There are issues that different states have," he said. "The fact that the next prosecutor comes from Africa will make it more difficult for her, because she will face different pressures."