April 20, 2015 (KHARTOUM) – Sudanese president Omer Hassan al-Bashir cancelled a planned visit to Indonesia on Monday to attend a meeting of the non-aligned movement.
- The aeroplane of Sudanese leader Omer Hassan al-Bashir lands at Beijing International Airport on 28 June 2011 (Photo: Reuters/Liu Jin/Pool)
Government sources told Sudan Tribune on condition of anonymity that Bashir’s trip was scrapped after several countries denied permission for him to fly over their airspace en route to Jakarta.
The names of these nations and reasons behind their decision were not disclosed.
A conference organiser in Jakarta confirmed to Reuters that Bashir cancelled appearance at the last minute, but declined to say why. A press conference about the issue was scheduled to take place later on Tuesday in Jakarta.
The circumstances surrounding this planned visit is similar to another one in 2011 when Bashir arrived in China a day late following a dramatic trip that saw his plane blocked from airspace of two countries, prompting him to return and adjust flight routes to avoid risk of arrest.
In 2013, Saudi Arabia blocked his flight to Iran citing failure to obtain prior clearance.
Bashir’s trips are generally carefully planned in light of being wanted by the International Criminal Court (ICC) on charges of genocide, war crimes, and crimes against humanity.
The Sudanese presidency has not issued any statements on the cancellation of the visit.
However, media reports attributed to a source in the foreign ministry said the trip cancellation was due to the “protocols and constitutional requirements” which govern the president’s travelling abroad that prevent him from embarking on foreign trips before the end of elections and his taking of the oath.
On Sunday, foreign ministry spokesperson Ali al-Sadiq said Bashir would fly on Monday to Indonesia to participate in the summit which will commemorate the 60th anniversary of the 1955 Asia-Africa conference.
He described the planned trip as “ordinary” without any potential risk after receiving an official invitation of his Indonesian counterpart.
But the foreign ministry issued a statement on Monday saying that Sudan’s delegation to the summit will be headed by the foreign minister, Ali Karti, instead of president Bashir without elaborating on the issue.
Indonesia is not an ICC member and is therefore not obliged to hand over Bashir to the court.
The Jakarta Post newspaper had reported that Bashir is among foreign leaders who confirmed attendance at the conference.
The Sudanese leader cancelled a planned appearance in the South-Aast Asian nation of Malaysia in 2011 after controversy erupted there over his possible attendance.
A Malaysian official at the time said that if Bashir decided to fulfill the invitation it can be an “embarrassment” to Malaysia.
Bashir refuses to recognise the international tribunal, and considers it “a colonial tool directed against his country and Africa”.
In July 2013, Bashir hastily left the Nigerian capital Abuja, less than 24 hours after arrival to participate in a regional summit after activists filed a lawsuit to compel the government to arrest him.
The United States has refused in September 2013 to grant Bashir a visa to participate in the meetings of the General Assembly of the United Nations in New York City.
Human Rights Watch (HRW) hailed the cancellation and urged Bashir to surrender himself to the ICC.
“Bashir’s efforts to promote his legitimacy appear to have backfired and his movement is rightly limited. He should surrender himself to face the charges against him,” said HRW associate international justice director Elise Keppler.