Sudanese president Bashir flouts war crimes indictment with visit to Egypt

The Sudanese president, Omar al-Bashir, arrived in Egypt today in a show of contempt towards the international criminal court, which is seeking his arrest for war crimes in Darfur.
Bashir was met at the airport in Cairo by the Egyptian president, Hosni Mubarak, for what was expected to be a one-day visit, his second trip outside Sudan since his arrest warrant was issued on 4 March. Egypt is a neighbour and close ally of Sudan, and has been one of the most vocal opponents of the court decision.
On Monday, Bashir made a brief visit across the border to Eritrea, the tiny Red Sea state that remains diplomatically isolated due to its repressive regime.
While the aim of the visits was to further underline Bashir's defiance of the international community – he immediately expelled 13 foreign aid agencies from Darfur when the warrant was announced – they carried little risk of arrest. Neither Egypt nor Eritrea has ratified the Rome statute of the ICC, which has no police force and requires member states to make arrests on its behalf.
The first real test of Bashir's resolve will be whether he attends the Arab summit on Sunday in Qatar, which would require him to cross international airspace. Immediately after the ICC warrant was issued, Sudan's government said Bashir would attend.
However, senior Sudanese officials and Islamic scholars have been urging him not to travel to Doha, saying it carried too much risk, even though among Arab states only Jordan is an ICC member. Qatar's prime minister, Sheikh Hamad Bin Jassem al-Thani, who on Tuesday visited the Sudanese capital, Khartoum, said that while he had come under international pressure not to receive Bashir, an invitation had been extended.
"We respect international law and we respect the attendance of President al-Bashir and welcome him. It is a purely Sudanese decision," he said.
Bashir is accused of orchestrating the counter-insurgency campaign in Darfur, which mainly targeted non-Arab civilians deemed supportive of rebel groups that challenged the government in 2003. More than 200,000 people have died during the conflict, mostly through starvation and disease.
After being formally accused of war crimes by the ICC prosecutor in July, Bashir embarked on a charm offensive to win support from neighbours and countries in the wider region. Both the Arab League and African Union oppose the arrest warrant, arguing it may jeopardise peace efforts in Darfur.
The UN security council can suspend the ICC indictment, a position favoured by Russia and China, both strong trade partners of Sudan. But the remaining three permanent council members, Britain, France and the US, have indicated they will block any such move. The trio argue that Bashir has shown little appetite for ending the conflict peacefully, and that it would send out the wrong message about ending impunity.
source guardian
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