Beleaguered Al-Bashir arrives in Saudi Arabia for Hajj pilgrimage

Ahram Online , Sunday 13 Oct 2013

Sudan's president is in Mecca after attending the African Union summit in Ethiopia, Sudanese media reports

Sudan's President Omar Al-Bashir leaves after the Extra Ordinary session on the Assembly of Heads of State and Government of the African Union on the case of African Relationship with International Criminal Court (ICC), in Ethiopia's capital Addis Ababa, October 12, 2013 (Photo: Reuters)

Sudanese President Omar Al-Bashir has arrived to Saudi Arabia to begin the annual Hajj (Muslim pilgrimage) in the Muslim holy city of Mecca, Sudan's state news agency SUNA reported Sunday morning.

Al-Bashir headed to the Gulf kingdom after attending the African Union summit in the Ethiopian capital Addis Ababa.

In August, Riyadh denied permission for a plane carrying Al-Bashir to pass through Saudi airspace as he headed to Iran to attend the swearing-in of President Hassan Rouhani before the Iranian parliament. According to AFP, the aircraft had to turn back.

The International Criminal Court (ICC) in The Hague has issued two arrest warrants against Al-Bashir, in 2009 and 2010, on charges of committing war crimes, genocide and crimes against humanity in the Darfur region of Sudan.

Sudan has been rocked by nationwide protests over the past two weeks following the government's decision to raise prices of petroleum products.

Amnesty International has accused security forces of killing over 200 protesters, although state authorities place the death toll between 60 and 70.

Calling for the regime's removal, this wave of demonstrations represents the worst unrest of Al-Bashir's 24 years in power.

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