Friday, June 24, 2011

Sudan President's Problematic Plans to Attend South Breakaway Ceremony

Thursday 23 June 2011

Bashir’s presence at S. Sudan independence ceremony problematic

June 22, 2011 (KHARTOUM) – The possible presence of Sudanese president Omer Hassan al-Bashir at the independence ceremony of South Sudan is complicating the planning process for the event, a newspaper in Khartoum reported today.

Sudan’s President Omer Hassan al-Bashir (Reuters)This month South Sudan’s ruling party, the Sudan People’s Liberation Movement (SPLM), announced that it invited Bashir for the day marking the official establishment of the new state.

The independent Al-Ahdath newspaper quoted unnamed sources as saying that some countries particularly in Europe have yet to name their representatives at the ceremony.

Western officials have mostly avoided meeting with Bashir since an arrest warrant was issued for him by the International Criminal Court (ICC) on charges that he masterminded war crimes, crimes against humanity and genocide in Darfur.

There were even cases where leaders from Brazil and Argentina refused to be seen next to the Sudanese president.

Southern officials are keen on securing the maximum attendance by officials from U.S. and Europe, according to the sources and are therefore wary of the impact Bashir’s presence may have.

The sources said that U.S. Vice president Joe Biden and United Nations Secretary General Ban Ki Moon are among the officials expected to attend though this is not confirmed yet.

But the Washington Post said today that Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton, was tentatively scheduled to attend the ceremony, though she may not make the trip because of safety concerns.

The newspaper also reported that former governor of Alaska and the 2008 Republican party candidate for Vice President Sarah Palin has cancelled her plans to be at the ceremony due to scheduling reasons.

Palin was planning to travel with Franklin Graham, the son of evangelical leader Billy Graham, as well as Fox News personality Greta Van Susteren. The latter also canceled her trip. Graham said on Wednesday that he still plans to go.


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