Sudan's Bashir welcomed in Ethiopia despite warrantRNW International Justice Desk
Posted by sarkout on May 31 2009 18:09:16
Sudan's Bashir welcomed in Ethiopia despite warrantRNW International Justice Desk


Ethiopia welcomed Sudanese President Omar al Bashir with a full state reception on Tuesday at the start of his latest trip abroad in defiance of an international arrest warrant.

Ethiopian Prime Minister Meles Zenawi met Bashir at the airport, where a band played as he left his plane and Sudanese living in Ethiopia cheered his arrival.

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Masterminding war
But the International Criminal Court (ICC) in The Hague issued a warrant for the Sudanese leader last month, charging him with masterminding war crimes and crimes against humanity in Darfur, western Sudan.

"Sudan is our immediate neighbour," Meles told reporters after talks with Bashir in Addis Ababa. "Our relationship is not affected by the indictment."

Bashir has visited Egypt, Eritrea, Libya, Qatar and Saudi Arabia since the ICC issued the arrest warrant.

"The warrant will not affect the movement or activities of the president or any other Sudanese official," Bashir said, adding that the indictment was positive for Sudan because of support from the African Union (AU) and the Arab League.

The AU, based in Addis Ababa, says the warrant is likely to compromise peace efforts in Darfur and the 53-member organisation wants the indictment deferred.

State dinner
Western diplomats in the Ethiopian capital are boycotting a state dinner in Bashir's honour but the majority of African ambassadors will attend.
"Africa is together on this because there are powerful African leaders scared that their crimes might be next on the ICC's agenda," a western diplomat said.
The UN says at least 200,000 people have been killed and more than 2.7 million driven from their homes in Darfur in almost six years of ethnic and political violence.
Khartoum, however, says only 10,000 people have died and has expelled 13 foreign aid groups it accuses of helping the court to build the charges against the president.
None of the countries Bashir has visited so far since his indictment -- the court's first against a sitting head of state -- are ICC members.

Tags: bashir, darfur, ethiopia, humanity, icc, sudan, war crimes
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