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QATAR

Bashir in Doha before start of Arab summit

3 min

Sudanese President Omar al-Bashir (pictured left) arrived in Doha ahead of talks Monday with Arab leaders to discuss the ICC warrant for his arrest for crimes against humanity in Darfur.

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REUTERS - Sudanese President Omar Hassan al-Bashir arrived in the Gulf state of Qatar on Sunday, Al Jazeera television reported, as Arab leaders gathered for a summit set to discuss his indictment for war crimes.

Bashir has visited Egypt, Eritrea, Libya and Ethiopia in the weeks since the International Criminal Court (ICC) issued a warrant for his arrest and accused him of masterminding war crimes and crimes against humanity in Darfur.

Qatar, which hosts a key U.S. military base, said last week it had faced unspecified pressure not to receive Bashir but it repeated an invitation for him to attend.

Libyan leader Muammar Gaddafi on Sunday described the indictment of Bashir as “First World terrorism”.

“The ICC warrant to arrest President Bashir is an attempt by (the west) to recolonise their former colonies,” Gaddafi, the current chairman of the African Union (AU), told reporters in the Ethiopian capital Addia Ababa.

“It is a practice of a First World terrorism. It is not fair that a sitting head of state should be arrested. That is why all Third World countries are opposing ICC’s warrant against Bashir,” Gaddafi added.

The ICC issued an arrest warrant for Bashir on March 4 on  seven counts of war crimes and crimes against humanity in the Darfur region of western Sudan, where international experts say more than 200,000 people have been killed since 2003.

Qatar is not one of the 108 states which are parties to the Rome statute which set up the International Criminal Court. Even where a state is a party to the statute, the Hague-based court has no means of enforcing its warrants.

The African Union says that the warrant is likely to compromise attempts to make peace in Darfur and the 53-member organisation wants the indictment deferred.

Gaddafi said last month that “foreign forces” including Israel were behind the Darfur conflict and urged the court to stop proceedings against Bashir.

The veteran Libyan leader says Africa can solve its own problems and has made a number of attempts to broker peace between Darfur rebels and the Khartoum government.

Veteran Libyan diplomat Ali Triki told reporters in Addis Ababa on Saturday that the African members of the ICC might withdraw in protest over the warrant.

“The ICC decision is a major issue for Africa. We have said time and again that we did not accept the ICC’s decision against President Bashir,” said Triki, Libya’s African affairs minister.

“The 33 African member states of the ICC will meet in the immediate future to consider withdrawing from ICC,” he said.

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