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Omar Al Bashir: To Travel or Not to Travel

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Sunday 22 March 2009 05:00.

March 21, 2009 (KHARTOUM) — The highest Islamic authority in Sudan issued an opinion today saying that president Omer Hassan Al-Bashir should not travel to attend the annual Arab summit in Qatar this month.

The move came as senior Sudanese officials today left the door open for Bashir to cancel his scheduled appearance at the summit despite earlier assertions that he will attend.

On March 4th the judges of the Pre-Trial Chamber I at the International Criminal Court (ICC) issued an arrest warrant for Sudanese president Omer Hassan Al-Bashir on seven counts of war crimes and crimes against humanity, which include murder, rape and torture.

Yesterday Reuters reported that the ICC’s prosecutor Luis Moreno-Ocampo was in New York to urge countries to act on the ICC arrest warrant against Bashir.

“As soon as he travels through the international airspace he could be arrested. Slobodan Milosevic and Charles Taylor show that the destiny of Mr. Bashir is to face justice” he said.

“Two months or two years will depend on the state and how they act. But his destiny is to face justice” Ocampo asserted.

The pro-government Sudanese media center website published the findings of the board which has the power to issue Fatwas [religious opinions] and make the final say on any disputed topics from an Islamic perspective.

“This is an appeal and fatwa from the Islamic scholars board presided by its council and its general secretariat on the forbidding the president of the republic to attend the Arab summit in Qatar in light of the current circumstances where enemies of Allah and the nation are surrounding him” the statement read.

“Fearing for the sake to prevent danger is following orders of god and the prophet and forfeiting chances of the enemies of Allah by staying inside Sudan with your people and angering the infidels”.

The Sudanese president said in an interview with Egypt’s independent Al-Isboa weekly published Saturday that he will fly to Doha to attend the Arab summit for which he received an official invitation a week ago.

But today the presidential press secretary Mahjoub Badri told the pro-government Al-Rayaam that no final decision has been made on Bashir’s trip.

Government sources told the London based Al-Sharq Al-Awsat newspaper that there is division within the ruling National Congress Party (NCP) on the issue.

The newspaper quoted the sources as saying that some officials say the trip as necessary to prove that Bashir is not affected by the ICC ruling while others believe it is not worth the risk.

The Sudanese defense minister Abdel-Rahim Mohamed Hussein said that discussions are still ongoing on Bashir’s travel and if agreed on will be surrounded by “security and military precautions”.

Sudan had previously announced that it is making special security arrangements for the travel of Bashir to Doha which reportedly includes fighter jets guarding the presidential plane.

Khartoum is particularly worried by prospects of foreign fighters intercepting Bashir’s plane and forcing to land in a country where he can be apprehended.

Sudan summoned the French ambassador this week over statements attributed to Eric Chevallier, spokesman of the French foreign ministry in which he suggested that his government will support any operation aimed at arresting the Sudanese president through intercepting the plane.

The French government said Chevallier’s was misquoted by the London based Al-Sharq Al-Awsat newspaper which interviewed him.

This week the Sudanese former president Siwar Al-Dahab urged Bashir to exercise “patience and wisdom” and not risk travelling to Doha “for his safety and the safety of Sudanese people”.

Also Sudanese newspapers reported that a one day sit in is scheduled on Sunday by pro-Bashir supporters to ask for cancellation of appearance at Doha summit.


Written by torit1955

March 22, 2009 at 9:04 am

Posted in ICC and Darfur Crisis

Tagged with ,

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