A top official of Sudan’s ruling National Congress Party (NCP) says the expanded International Criminal Court’s arrest warrant against President Omar Hassan al-Bashir will not prevent him from making his scheduled trip to neighboring Chad.
Rabie Abdullati Obeid said President Bashir’s trip Wednesday to Chad will seek to strengthen bilateral relations with Ndjamena and show that the additional arrest warrant issued by the Hague-based court does not have any effect on his travels to other countries.
“This visit proves that we are not [bothered by] ICC steps or procedures as we are not members of the Rome Charter on which this ICC [was] established… and the program of the government, especially and particularly, on the relationship between Sudan and neighboring countries whether in Africa or the Arab world is going on,” he said.
Last week, the Hague-based court issued a second arrest warrant against the embattled Sudanese leader adding genocide charges against Mr. Bashir over his alleged involvement in the violence in the Darfur region.
Chadian President Idriss Deby
In a released statement, the ICC said, “There are reasonable grounds to believe that Mr. al-Bashir is criminally responsible for five counts of crimes against humanity (murder, extermination, forcible transfer, torture and rape), and two counts for war crimes (intentionally directing attacks against a civilian population, as such, or against individual civilians not taking direct part in hostilities, and pillaging).”
In 2009, the same court issued an international arrest warrant against President Bashir for war crimes and crimes against humanity.
But, supporters of Mr. Bashir dismissed the charges as “political” saying western countries often manipulate decisions of the Hague-based court against Sudan.
While in the Chadian capital, President Bashir is scheduled to attend the Community of Sahel-Saharan States (CENSAD) summit Thursday.
On the eve of his trip, the Sudanese government expelled Chadian rebels living in the country, a move senior NCP official Obeid described as a mere coincidence.
“This is only coming like that, but there is no connection with the visit of the president. Actually, [his trip] is planned according to the schedule already made by the government. I don’t think that this is connected to each other,” Obeid said.
Analysts say President Bashir is unlikely to be arrested by Chadian officials despite Ndjamena being a signatory of the Rome Statute that obliges the government to enforce the arrest warrants against the Sudanese leader.
Both President Bashir and his Chadian counterpart, Idriss Deby, have normalized official relations after years of tensions.