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Jordan reportedly blocks visit by Sudanese president

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March 9, 2014 (KHARTOUM) – The Sudanese presidency refused on Sunday to confirm or deny reports that a request made by president Omer Hassan Al-Bashir to visit Jordan for medical checkup has been denied by authorities in Amman.

According to these reports, Bashir made the request through the Jordanian embassy in Khartoum which referred the matter to its foreign ministry. The latter informed Khartoum later that it is unable to receive Bashir.

But a government official at the Sudanese presidency who was approached by Sudan Tribune doubted the credibility of these reports saying he does not believe that Bashir made a request to travel to Jordan in the first place.

Jordan is one of four Arab states along with Djibouti, Comoros Island and Tunisia which are members of the International Criminal Court (ICC) which issued two arrest warrants in 2009 & 2010 for Bashir on charges of war crimes and genocide allegedly committed in Darfur.

Despite singing off on Arab League declarations rejecting the warrants, Jordanian officials quietly stated they will honor their obligations under the ICC’s statute.

Jordan is also one of the very active states at the ICC and Prince Zeid Ra’ad Zeid Al-Hussein was the first President of the ICC Assembly of States Parties from 2002-2005.

The Sudanese president used to undergo regular medical examinations in Qatar and more recently in Saudi Arabia but an apparent strain in bilateral relations may have forced him to seek treatment elsewhere.

Last week, the head of external relations for Sudan’s ruling National Congress Party’s (NCP), al-Dirdeeri Mohamed Ahmed, admitted that his country’s ties with Saudi Arabia are at a low point in the wake of Riyadh’s decision to bar its banks from dealing with their Sudanese counterparts effective February 28th.

In August of last year, Saudi Arabia closed its airspace to a plane carrying Bashir en route to Iran, where he was scheduled to attend the inauguration ceremony of president-elect Hassan Rouhani, thus forcing him and his delegation to return home.

Observers speculated that Sudan’s growing ties with Iran could have irked the Saudis, prompting them to block Bashir’s flight.

The 70-year-old president underwent throat surgery in Qatar more than a year and a half ago and another one few months afterwards in Saudi Arabia.

A year ago, he secretly flew again to Saudi Arabia again for a medical checkup, according to a presidential source at the time.

Bashir’s brother Abdullahi Al-Bashir, a physician, later admitted that his younger sibling was suffering from a tumor in his throat but insisted that medical tests proved that the swelling is benign.

(ST)

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