Sudan’s foreign minister said the International Criminal Court’s indictment of President Omar al-Bashir is merely a European accusation that has been rejected by the rest of the international community, including the African Union.
Speaking to VOA by telephone from Khartoum Sunday, Foreign Minister Ibrahim Ghandour said President Bashir continues to travel the world whenever he is invited by other heads of state without fear of being arrested.
Bashir begins a four-day visit to China Monday at the invitation of the Chinese government to attend celebrations marking Japan’s defeat in World War II. It is the Sudanese head of state's second visit to China.
Ghandour said Sudan and China enjoy excellent relations.
“Sudan is on the list of the top countries in Africa that are economically dealing with China. China supported Sudan in its very dark days when Sudan was let down by the U.S., including extracting Sudanese oil. China helps Sudan in oil refinery and other economic issues," Ghandour said. "Right now China and Sudan are actually having excellent relations, and this is how Sudan and President Bashir have been invited to China.”
Foreign Minister Ghandour said Bashir’s China visit will include talks on bilateral relations, meeting with Chinese businessmen who are investing in Sudan as well as Sudanese living in China.
Bashir was indicted in 2010 for war crimes and crimes against humanity relating to the conflict in Darfur. China is not a signatory to the ICC but is a permanent member of the U.N. Security Council.
A South African court this past June ordered South African authorities to stop Bashir from leaving the country while he was attending an African Union summit there.
Ghandour said not only Sudan but all of Africa believe the ICC indictment is politically motivated because it targets only Africans.
“We don’t say that we are not concerned, but we say that this is a political decision because it is being faced by political confrontation from the AU, from the international community, and from many countries and it remains only a European decision. So this is why President Bashir is executing his duties as state president whenever he’s invited,” Ghandour said.
On peace in southern neighbor South Sudan, Ghandour said Khartoum feels an obligation for peace to come to South Sudan because not only was South Sudan once a part of Sudan, but it feels Africa’s newly independent country is descending into chaos.
“Sudan has got a moral obligation towards peaceful ensuring peace in South Sudan. We played a great role in bringing the two sides fighting in South, particularly SPLM in government and SPLM in government to sign the agreement because we feel that South Sudan is heading toward chaos. And this is why we feel that this is a responsibility of Sudan to help our brothers and sisters in the South,” Ghandour said.