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EGYPT: Bashir defies the International Criminal Court again

March 25, 2009 | 10:26 am

SudanbashirIn a new act of defiance of the International Criminal Court, Sudanese President Omar Bashir arrived in Cairo today, his second visit abroad since his indictment on war crimes and the issuance of an arrest warrant.

Bashir reportedly held talks with his Egyptian counterpart, President  Hosni Mubarak. However, his sudden visit did not last for long; he left after few hours. This is Bashir’s second trip outside Sudan after his visit to Eritrea earlier this week.

The International Criminal Court ordered the arrest of Bashir earlier this month on grounds that he committed war crimes in Darfur province, where his regime is fighting non-Arab rebels.

The ICC has called on nations to arrest Bashir. But a visit to Egypt would not have been too risky for a number of reasons. First, Egypt is a good friend of the Sudanese government. Second, it has vehemently opposed the arrest warrant and tried hard to suspend the court decision. Third, it is not party to the ICC treaty. 

"There is an Egyptian, Arab and African stance that does not accept the court's manner in dealing with the Sudanese president," Egyptian Foreign Minister Abul Gheit told reporters after the meeting.

Bashir annouced earlier this month that he would attend the Arab summit set for March 30 in Doha, Qatar. Such a trip might be really perilous to the Sudanese president as he would be flying through international airspace and his plane might be easily intercepted by a carrier belonging to a country that is a signatory of the ICC agreement.

Although Bashir seems determined to attend the Doha summit, some Sudanese officials have expressed real concern. Sudanese Islamic scholars shared the same view as Sudanese politicians.  They reportedly released a statement advising the president not to fly to Qatar.

— Noha El-Hennawy in Cairo

Photo: Bashir arrives in Cairo for talks with Mubarak. Credit: AFP / Getty Images