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Africa

Bashir arrives in Ethiopia in another defiance of ICC arrest

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Latest update : 2009-04-21

Sudanese President Omar al-Bashir (pictured) arrived in Ethiopia Tuesday on his sixth foreign trip since an International Criminal Court arrest warrant was issued for him in connection with alleged war crimes committed in Darfur.

AFP - Sudanese President Omar al-Beshir arrived Tuesday in Ethiopia, on his sixth foreign trip since an international arrest warrant for alleged war crimes was issued against him.
   
"He has just arrived," Sudan's deputy ambassador to Ethiopia, Akuei Bona Malwal, told AFP from the airport in Addis Ababa.
   
The Sudanese president, who had initially been expected to arrive late Monday, is due to stay in Ethiopia until Wednesday, officially to discuss bilateral issues at a meeting of the Sudanese-Ethiopian joint commission.
   
The Addis visit will be Beshir's sixth foreign trip since the International Criminal Court (ICC) issued an arrest warrant against him on March 4 for war crimes and crimes against humanity in Sudan's western region of Darfur.
   
No western representatives were at the airport for Beshir's arrival.
   
A diplomat speaking on condition of anonymity said Western ambassadors and envoys would boycott a state dinner in Beshir's honour after receiving instructions from their capitals not to attend.
   
Beshir has dismissed the notion that the warrant could restrict his travel.
   
"We went to this summit to show those who said we could not travel outside Sudan that we can travel outside Sudan," Beshir told reporters. "Nothing can intimidate us into stopping travelling."
   
Beshir also travelled to neighbouring Egypt and Libya over the last month but reserved his first trip after the arrest warrant for Ethiopia's archfoe Eritrea.
   
No attempt has been made to arrest him during any of the trips, all to countries -- Ethiopia included -- that were not signatories to the 2002 international convention that created the ICC.
   
The ICC accuses Beshir of criminal responsibility for "exterminating, raping and forcibly transferring large numbers of civilians" from Darfur, where the United Nations says the conflict has cost 300,000 lives.
   
Sudan puts the death toll from the six-year war at only 10,000.
   
Prior to his Ethiopian visit, Beshir on April 1 travelled to the holy Muslim city of Mecca in Saudi Arabia, where he performed the umrah, or minor pilgrimage.
   
On March 30, he attended the Arab League summit in Doha, where other Arab leaders formally pledged their support for the indicted leader and condemned the court's actions.
   
"We stress our solidarity with Sudan and our rejection of the ICC decision against President Omar al-Beshir," the Arab leaders said in the summit's final declaration.
   
Ethiopia had always made it clear it would ignore calls to arrest Beshir and has led a push by the Addis-based Africa Union for the United Nations Security Council to defer the indictments.
   
The ICC warrant was the Hague-based court's first-ever arrest warrant against a sitting head of state.
 

Date created : 2009-04-21

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