Tuesday, February 12, 2013

President Bashir to Visit Chad, Libya Despite ICC Warrant


Sudan’s Bashir to visit Chad, Libya despite ICC warrant

February 11, 2013 (KHARTOUM) – The Sudanese president Omer Hassan al-Bashir will travel to Chad and Libya this weekend to attend two events, a government sponsored website reported today.

The state-linked Sudanese Media Center (SMC) quoting press sources said that Chadian president Idriss Deby invited Bashir to the Community of Sahel-Saharan (CEN-SAD) summit during his visit to Khartoum last week.

Chad is a signatory to the International Criminal Court (ICC) which has issued two arrest warrants for Bashir on ten counts of war crimes, crimes against humanity and genocide allegedly committed in Sudan’s western region of Darfur.

The ten-year Darfur conflict in western Sudan, on the border with Chad, has claimed 300,000 lives according to the United Nations. The Khartoum government puts the toll at 10,000.

African countries rallied behind Bashir and issued resolutions stating that they will not cooperate with the ICC in apprehending the Sudanese leader even in Bashir’s visits to countries which have ratified the Rome Statue.

This has enabled Bashir to visit African ICC signatories such as Kenya, Djibouti and Chad without incident.

Bashir’s previous visits to Chad in 2010 and 2011 were strongly criticised by the European Union and human rights groups in light of Ndjamena’s refusal to arrest Bashir.

During Chad’s thorny relations with Sudan, president Deby vowed to execute the arrest warrant against Bashir and rejected AU resolutions granting him immunity. However, as relations improved Deby reversed his position.

The AU summit that took place in Addis Ababa last month omitted the usual mention of urging its members to ignore ICC warrant against Bashir. A source told Sudan Tribune that African diplomats did not believe this was a pressing issue warranting discussion this time around.

SMC said that Bashir may head to Libya to attend the celebrations commemorating the outbreak of the counter-revolution that toppled the government of the martyred leader Muammar Gaddafi.

The website noted that Bashir was invited by the Libyan rebel leadership to attend but said that tensions in the North African country may not allow for the celebration to take place.

Ironically, Bashir was one of the very few leaders in 2009 who attended Gaddafi’s celebration of the coup which brought him to power 40 years ago.

Following Gaddafi’s overthrow by NATO and its allies in 2011 Bashir lashed out at Libya’s leader saying that he has caused harm to Sudan over the years and revealed that Sudan provided support to rebels who launched a military campaign to unseat him.

Libya is not a member of the ICC and therefore has no obligation to detain Bashir. But it was the National Transitional Council (NTC), which took control of the country, that asked the United Nations Security Council (UNSC) in 2011 to refer the situation in Libya to the Hague tribunal in order to investigate possible crimes committed following the uprising against Gaddafi.

This would mark Bashir’s second visit to Libya since Gaddafi’s removal.

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