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Mon Nov 24 01:55:14 SAST 2014

Wanted president at summit

Reuters | 29 November, 2010 00:310 Comments

Sudanese President Omar Hassan al-Bashir, wanted on war crimes charges, will attend an African-European summit in Libya this week, former President Thabo Mbeki said.

The International Criminal Court has issued arrest warrants for Bashir, alleging he masterminded genocide, war crimes and crimes against humanity during the country's seven-year conflict in the Darfur region.

Libya, which is hosting the Africa-European Union summit today and tomorrow, is not a member of the Hague-based court and is under no obligation to arrest Bashir once he enters its territory.

However, his attendance would cause a diplomatic dilemma for representatives of the EU, all of whose members have signed the court's charter and are bound to co-operate with it and enforce its arrest warrants.

Mbeki spoke to reporters on Saturday, at the end of a meeting in Khartoum with the Sudanese leader and the president of semi-autonomous south Sudan, Salva Kiir.

"There is the summit meeting of the African Union and the European Union in Libya . President Bashir has to go there for that summit, which will be followed immediately by the summit meeting of the peace and security council of the African Union," he said.

African Union heads of state last year voted not to co-operate with the ICC indictments, and Bashir has visited Kenya and Chad, both of them court members.

However, the warrants have severely limited his travel and many Western diplomats have tried to minimise their contacts with Bashir and other wanted officials inside Sudan.

Mbeki met Bashir and Kiir to try and work out an agreement over the ownership of Sudan's disputed Abyei region, one of the biggest stumbling blocks in peace negotiations between the north and the oil-producing south.

Mbeki said he presented both leaders with proposals on how to resolve the Abyei dispute.

Bashir and Kiir had promised to respond next week, he added.

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