From: Biniam Tekle (firstname.lastname@example.org)
Date: Thu Mar 26 2009 - 07:54:51 EST
Thursday, March 26, 2009
15:10 Mecca time, 12:10 GMT
Sudan's al-Bashir visits Libya
Omar al-Bashir, the president of Sudan, has travelled to Libya in defiance
of an arrest warrant issued against him by the International Criminal Court
(ICC) on charges of war crimes in the Darfur region.
Al-Bashir was expected to meet Muammar Gaddafi, the Libyan leader, in the
city of Sirte on his third trip abroad following the arraest warrant being
issued on March 4.
"He arrived. He will meet the leader over lunch," an official said on
Al-Bashir was expected to discuss the arrest warrant with Gaddafi, who is
currently the head of the African Union.
Gaddafi has previously said that the ICC decision set a "grave precedent
against the independence of less powerful states, their sovereignty and
their political choices."
He told Ban ki-moon, the UN secretary-general that the court was "employing
a policy of double standards in targeting African and third-world
Al-Bashir has travelled to Eritrea and Egypt in recent days. Officials say
he is expected to travel to Ethiopia later on Thursday.
The Sudanese president has also visited Darfur twice since the ICC arrest
warrant was issued.
Sudan's government said shortly after the ICC decision on March 4 that
al-Bashir would defy the warrant by travelling to an Arab summit in the
Qatari capital, Doha, on March 30.
Sheikh Hamad bin Jassem Al-Thani, the prime minister of Qatar, travelled to
Sudan on Tuesday in an attempt to convince al-Bashir to attend the summit
where they will focus on the situation in Darfur.
The Qatari prime minster said during his visit that Doha had been put under
pressure from several parties not to receive al-Bashir.
"Doha would not acquiesce to such pressure while al-Bashir is absolutely
free to take the appropriate decision about attending the Arab summit," the
Qatari prime minister said.
A series of Sudanese officials have released statements questioning the
wisdom of the trip, prompting speculation they were preparing to send
another representative instead.
A group of Sudanese Islamic scholars have advised al-Bashir not to travel to
the Arab League summit.
Al-Bashir responded to the ICC warrant by expelling 13 international aid
agencies from Darfur earlier this month.
Experts say at least 200,000 people have been killed and more than 2.7
million driven from their homes in almost six years of ethnic and political
fighting in Darfur in western Sudan.
Khartoum says 10,000 people have died.
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