Sudan asks AU to move summit over Bashir snub

AFP , Thursday 7 Jun 2012

After Malawi's announcement that Sudanese President Omar Al-Bashir will not be welcome at the African Union summit in July, Sudan requests the summit be moved to Ethiopia

Sudan has urged the African Union to move its July summit from Malawi to its Addis Ababa headquarters after the host nation's refusal to welcome President Omar al-Bashir, the foreign ministry said Thursday.

Sudan informed the pan-African bloc of its request on Wednesday after Malawi announced that Bashir "would not be welcome at this summit, upon a claimed adherence of Malawi to its obligations to the so-called 'International Criminal Court'," the ministry said in a statement.

Sudan's president is wanted by The Hague-based ICC on charges of genocide, crimes against humanity and war crimes in the country's troubled Darfur region.

Malawi's new president, Joyce Banda, said in May that she wanted Bashir to stay away from the summit in Lilongwe on July 9-16, to avoid straining ties with key donors for her impoverished country.

Sudan's foreign ministry said Khartoum accorded "the upmost importance" to the July summit, which required the participation of the country's leadership, given that the strained relations between Sudan and the South were on the agenda.

ICC prosecutor Luis Moreno-Ocampo has sought to increase pressure on the international community to arrest Bashir, telling the UN Security Council on Tuesday that the failure to detain him and other Sudanese officials accused of war crimes and genocide was "a direct challenge to the council's authority."

He said the council should consider calling on all 193 UN member states and regional organisations to carry out the arrest warrants.

Under current rules only ICC members, of which Malawi is one, have a duty to arrest Bashir, who has visited several countries, including some court signatories, without any action being taken.

The foreign minister of Benin, which currently chairs the African Union, said after Banda's comments last month that the pan-African group had no reason to bar Bashir from its July summit.

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