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Sudan’s President Continues Travels in Spite of Arrest Warrants

  • Peter Clottey

Sudanese President Omar al-Bashir delivers a speech during his swearing-in ceremony at the parliament in Khartoum, 27 May 2010

Sudanese President Omar al-Bashir delivers a speech during his swearing-in ceremony at the parliament in Khartoum, 27 May 2010

A prominent member of Sudan’s ruling National Congress Party (NCP) says President Omar Hassan al-Bashir will begin a two-day official state visit to neighboring Libya Wednesday.

Rabie Abdelati Obeid said President Bashir’s visit should not be misconstrued as a direct challenge to the arrest warrants issued against the Sudanese leader by The Hague-based International Criminal Court (ICC).

“This visit to Libya will be on certain issues. Issue number one is the [bilateral relations] between Libya and Sudan. Number two will be on the discussion of different regional issues concerning [the] African Union and the Arab League. And, [Libya’s mutual relations] with Sudan in the state of commercial activities and movement of people from Libya to Sudan and vice-versa, as well as technical cooperation between [them],” he said.

Last year, the Hague-based court issued an arrest warrant against President Bashir for war crimes and crimes against humanity in Darfur. Last month, the court also added genocide charges to the previous arrest warrant against the Sudanese leader accusing him of presiding over rape, torture and murder in western Darfur.

But, supporters of the Sudanese leader have rejected the arrest warrants as “manipulation” by the West against a sitting head of state.

Khalil Ibrahim, leader of the Justice and Equality Movement (JEM), the largest Darfur-based rebel group, is currently in Libya after Chad refused him entry. This comes after the rebels abandoned peace talks with Khartoum after accusing the government of attacking its positions in western Darfur.

Sudan recently closed its border with Libya after saying some rebels often use it to stage attacks within Sudan, including Darfur and Omdurman.

NCP official Obeid said President Bashir’s trip to Libya aims to strengthen both security and bilateral relations with Tripoli.

“Now, the only entrance to Sudan is [through] Libya. The visit of Khalil Ibrahim and his group in Libya will make a lot of disturbances to Sudan and that is why I think this point will be discussed thoroughly by President Omar al-Bashir and Libyan President Muammar al-Gaddafi,” Obeid said.

He further said that Libya has assured Sudan that it will not allow Khalil Ibrahim and his rebels to use “its territory” as a base to launch attacks against the people of Sudan.

Last month, embattled President Bashir went on a state visit to neighboring Chad, days after the ICC issued an additional arrest warrant against him for genocide in Darfur. Several international rights groups demanded his arrest since Chad is a signatory to the Rome Statute which led to the formation of the ICC.

The African Union, as well as the Arab League, has often said that the indictments against Mr. Bashir could undermine the 2005 Comprehensive Peace Agreement (CPA), as well as imperil the resolution of the Darfur crisis.

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