Bashir visit to South Africa called off amid ICC fears

Sudanese President Omar al-Bashir will not be part of next month’s summit of the Forum for China-Africa Cooperation (FOCAC) in South Africa.

While the Sudan embassy said President Bashir had pressing domestic issues to attend to, indications are that he may have been requested to skip the visit by both the South African and Chinese governments.

Highly placed government sources said the two countries fear the Sudan leader’s presence would detract attention from the summit.

The Sudanese embassy in Pretoria on Wednesday confirmed its leader would skip the December summit.

Embassy spokesman Saif Ahmed said President Bashir will be represented at by his deputy, Mr Bakri Hasan Saleh, at the summit.

“It is worth mentioning that the Sudanese President Omar Hassan Ahmed al-Bashir is currently engaged in highly important domestic issues, including the following up of the national dialogue, as well as the Addis Ababa round of negotiations between the Sudan and the armed groups,” Mr Ahmed said.

Court order

The South African government has been under pressure to avoid hosting President Bashir after the June debacle at the Africa Summit in Johannesburg when it failed to follow enforce a local court order to arrest the Sudan leader. The court order was subsequent to a demand by the International Criminal Court (ICC) at The Hague to hold the Sudanese leader.

The ICC wants him arrested for crimes against humanity, but the South African government defied the North Gauteng High Court’s ruling ordering his detention.

Mr Ahmed stressed that President Bashir recently participated in three consecutive summits, suggesting he did not need to be part of the FOCAC summit in South Africa.

The summits were the China-Africa, conference in Beijing, the India-Africa Forum in New Delhi, and the summit of Arab-South American held in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia.

SOURCE: The East African