ICC elects African as new chief prosecutor

ICC elects African as new chief prosecutor United Nations: International Criminal Court member states on Monday unanimously elected Fatou Bensouda of Gambia as the new chief prosecutor of the main genocide and war crimes tribunal.

Bensouda said it was "humbling" to be named to the post, which has become one of the most important international legal positions with the growth of international criminal justice over the past decade.

Bensouda, is currently the ICC deputy prosecutor and a former justice minister in Gambia. She will take over next June from Luis Moreno-Ocampo who sought the genocide warrant against Sudan's Omar al-Bashir and crimes against humanity case against late Libyan dictator Muammar Gaddafi.

The new prosecutor was elected by consensus at the annual meeting of the ICC's 120 state parties at the UN headquarters.

Bensouda said she was particularly proud of the support given by Africa.

"The African continent has again shown its support and its engagement in favour of international justice and the court," Bensouda said after the election.

"But let me stress: I will be the prosecutor of all the states parties in an independent and impartial manner," she added.

All of the ICC's formal investigations are in Africa but many of the continent's leaders say Africa is unfairly targeted and an African Union summit this year decided not to carry out warrants issued against African leaders.

Bensouda called the ICC, set up by the 2002 Rome statute, "a truly unique institution.

She said the court was "changing international relations forever."

Bensouda will face immediate challenges with Bashir still no closer to answering the charges against him over the conflict in Darfur.

She must also handle a sensitive case over whether Seif al-Islam, the son of Gaddafi, is tried in Libya or at the ICC in The Hague.

Bensouda was one of 52 candidates interviewed for the post. African nations had pressed for Bensouda's appointment, however, and many analysts have expressed the hope that her nomination will increase the tribunal's acceptance on the continent.