Tim Witcher (AFP) – Dec 12 2010
UNITED NATIONS — The International Criminal Court faces a new battle of wills this week with Sudan’s President Omar al-Bashir even as its top prosecutor says the wanted leader is increasingly encircled.
Bashir, who faces ICC warrants for genocide, war crimes and crimes against humanity in Darfur, has been invited to a summit in Zambia on Wednesday and to attend a festival in Senegal later this month.
ICC statutes dictate that any member country should arrest him if he visits. Bashir is defiant, however, the African Union supports him, and this year he has been to Kenya and Chad, both signatory countries which refused to detain him.
“President Bashir will continue to travel, nobody will be able to restrict him,” Sudan’s UN ambassador Daffa-Alla Elhag Ali Osman said.
Following ICC complaints and some international pressure, some diplomatic doors have closed, however.
An October summit of an East African group had to be moved from Kenya to Ethiopia, a non signatory, so that Bashir could go. Sudan boycotted an AU-European Union summit in November because of European threats to walk out and a visit to Central African Republic this month never went ahead.
South Africa and Uganda said they would arrest him if he went there.
“He is not under house arrest, he is under country arrest,” ICC chief prosecutor Luis Moreno-Ocampo said as court signatory countries met at the United Nations.