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Chad unsure on participation of Sudan’s Bashir in regional summit next month

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March 21, 2013 (WASHINGTON) – Chad’s foreign minister, Moussa Faki Mahamat, has denied suggestions that the Great Green Wall summit was postponed as a result of international pressure relating to the attendance of Sudanese president Omer Hassan al-Bashir.

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Chad’s foreign minister, Moussa Faki Mahamat, attends a meeting with his counterparts in the Economic Community of Central African States (ECCAS) on 28 December 2012 (Photo: Xavier Bourgois/AFP/Getty Images)

Chad is a member of the International Criminal Court (ICC) which has charged Bashir on 10 counts of war crimes, crimes against humanity and genocide allegedly committed in Darfur since 2003.

The central African nation has ignored the warrant and received Bashir three times as recent as last month during the summit for the Community of Sahel-Saharan States (CEN-SAD).

Chad maintains it is simply adhering to an African Union (AU) decision urging member states not to cooperate with the ICC in apprehending the Sudanese leader, though several countries did not abide by it.

The Sudanese leader was scheduled to fly to the Chadian capital Ndjamena this week to partake in the summit, which has since been rescheduled for reasons which remain unclear.

State media reported last month that Bashir confirmed his attendance at the conference during a meeting with the Chadian minister of environment, Mahamat Okormi, who had extended the invitation to him.

“We decided to postpone the conference and we will hold it at a later time but the delay was for normal reasons,” Chad’s top diplomat said in an interview with the London-based Al-Sharq Al-Awsat newspaper published on Friday.

“We did not ask Khartoum to excuse us from receiving Bashir, but since the conference was delayed the visit was not going to take place”, he said.

Mahamat stressed that the conference “was not pushed back because of international pressure to apprehend Bashir”.

However, when asked whether the Sudanese leader would attend the summit next month the Chadian foreign minister replied “we will see”.

Both Human Rights Watch (HRW) and Amnesty International (AI) last week called on Chad to either block Bashir’s visit or arrest him upon his arrival.

Sudan dismissed the calls and expressed confidence that Chad would not execute the warrant in line with its previous stance on the matter.

Last week, the Sudanese minister of environment and forestry, Hassan Abdel-Gadir Hilal, said his country would be present at the rescheduled summit next month but declined to say whether Bashir will lead Sudan’s delegation.

(ST)

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