Sudan: Omar al-Bashir still a very wanted man

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Sudan’s president Mr. Omar al-Bashir is still not welcomed by western nations for his alleged role in the Darfur genocide. France has relocated the venue of its forthcoming meeting with Africa in order to keep the Sudan leader from attending. European Union (EU) rules prohibit its members from engaging into contacts with an individual indicted by the ICC.

The indicted president al-Bashir cannot travel to countries that have signed the International Criminal Court (ICC) pledge; especially European countries that strongly uphold the ICC obligations.

The France-Africa summit which was planned to be held in Egypt was canceled over the invitation of the Sudanese President. The venue was reportedly moved to prevent the Sudanese leader from attending: France has said it would carry out the ICC warrant for his arrest, whereas several African nations, including Egypt, have said they would not.

The event, due in February, will now be held in France in May, diplomats have said.

French President Mr. Nicolas Sarkozy had sent French Interior Minister Brice Hortefeux to Cairo in October to try to persuade Mubarak to drop the invitation. In the end, the two presidents agreed to change the venue during a lunch in Paris on Monday, officials said.

President Bashir pulled out of an Islamic summit in Istanbul after Turkey, which is seeking EU membership, reportedly came under pressure from Brussels to drop him from the guest list. However the wanted president has visited several African countries since the warrant was issued.

The Egyptian foreign minister Ahmed Aboul-Gheit told the London based Al-Sharq Al-Awsat newspaper in an interview that both sides agreed to move the 25th France-Africa summit to France which would effectively mean that Bashir will stay away for fear of being arrested on the territory of an ICC state party.

According to French authorities, if president al-Bashir is invited then president Nicolas Sarkozy can not be present, and without Sarkozy’s presence, there is no Africa-France summit.

The ICC accuses Mr. al-Bashir of running a campaign of genocide that killed 35,000 people outright, at least another 100,000 through a slow death and of forcing two-and-a-half million to flee their homes in Darfur. An arrest warrant was issued for Mr Bashir’s in March but the president has since denied the accusations, calling it western neo-colonialism.

After his arrest warrant was issued in March, Mr. al-Bashir was quoted as saying: “The true criminals are the leaders of the United States and Europe. One day we will take them to justice.”

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