President Joyce Banda of Malawi announced on Friday that Sudan’s president, Omer Al-Bashir, is not welcome to attend an African Union (AU) summit in her country, citing “international implications.”
Malawi has already suffered a loss of $350 million in US aid money, suspended by Washington which cited deteriorating human rights conditions and the country’s decision to allow Al-Bashir to attend a regional summit in the capital Lilongwe when former President Bingu wa Mutharika was in power last year.
Al-Bashir is wanted by the International Criminal Court (ICC) for war crimes, crimes against humanity and genocide he allegedly orchestrated in his country’s western region of Darfur.
Malawi, being a signatory of the Rome Statue which founded the Hague-based tribunal, flouted its legal obligation to arrest the Sudanese president when he attended the summit.
As Malawi prepares to host the AU’s heads-of-state summit in July this year, the country’s new president Joyce Banda told a news conference on Friday that she has asked the continental body not to invite Al-Bashir.
“I have written them because of the implications this may have on Malawi,” she said, speaking from the state house in Lilongwe.
“Let the AU decide on his position.”
Banda, who took over following the death of Mutharika last month, is trying to mend relations with Western countries who had already cut aid assistance to the Southeast African nation on account of her predecessor’s suspected human rights violations.
“Sudan can be represented by anyone in July but not by someone who will jeopardize our nation’s status. We cannot take such risk” the Malawian president insisted.
Despite the ICC arrest warrant, Al-Bashir managed to visit a number of countries in Africa and the Middle East, including member states of the court like Kenya and Chad.
He was, however, forced to cancel his appearance on several international occasions and some countries had to relocate planned events to avoid the consequences of hosting him.
The Sudanese president denies the ICC charges and refuses to recognize the jurisdictions of the court which he denigrates as a tool of new-colonialism by the West.